The role of optometrists in top-quality hospital eye care has been highlighted at the annual Bayer Ophthalmology Honours awards (1 December, London).
An ophthalmic-optometric-orthoptic-nursing team at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital won the award’s best patient support or education initiative prize for its paediatric intraocular clinics, caring for children requiring cataract surgery, glaucoma management and trauma care.
Optometrist, Anne Crowe, a recently departed member of the paediatric intraocular clinic, emphasised that: “We were over the moon. It was really exciting. We didn’t expect to win. We were more than thrilled to be shortlisted.”
Ms Crowe and the fellow optometrist, Zita Newell, in the clinic perform refraction on the phakic, aphakic and pseudophakic children, prescribe spectacles lenses, fit contact lenses, manage contact lens aftercare, monitor intraocular pressure and examine the fundus, depending on the patient.
Ms Crowe explained that: “The children in the clinic were diagnosed with very serious sight threatening eye condition at a very vulnerable time in their parents’ lives. The aim of the clinic was for the parents to get to know the team and have continuity of care. We were one nurse, one orthoptist, two optometrists and one consultant.”
She added: “Some patients were on the very early stage of the process, with parents quite anxious, while others were well used to the routine and more familiar with the process and more accepting of the waiting times to see us.”
Ms Crowe took the role with the clinic after a history of working with children in High Street optometry, she told OT, adding: “Some optometrists can be a little apprehensive about seeing children.
“I worked in a High Street independent for many years in a small town in Ireland, where children came from Chernobyl for radiation respite. The owner of the practice offered free eye tests to these children and most of them were booked in to see me.”
Ms Crowe currently works in clinics at Southport and Warrington Hospitals. Over her career as a hospital optometrist, she has developed strong relationships with her ophthalmic colleagues – particularly when working in smaller hospital units like Alder Hey, she highlighted.
“At Alder Hey, I worked with three fantastic consultants, who were really lovely to work with, and I worked very closely with them,” she said.
The triage meetings held before a clinic started were very important, Ms Crowe explained, adding: “You get to know what the ophthalmologists want from you and expect from you and how he or she wants the clinic to run.”
Bayer’s best ophthalmology team prize was given to the team of doctors, nurses, orthoptists and clerks that revamped the glaucoma services offered at the Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust.
A multi-disciplinary team approach frees up the ophthalmologists’ critical time, glaucoma consultant, Anne Linnell, explained, adding: “We’re seeing the patients that we need to see – the high-risk patients.”
She emphasised that the award was a “huge” compliment, and told OT that: “To be recognised by other people is gratifying, because I’ll be honest, it has not always been easy and it didn’t happen overnight, given the training and development of the non-medical staff.”
Ms Linnell highlighted that the hard work of her colleagues, including the clerical unit, was critical to the success of the scheme, which recognised and tackled a number of problems in the way the hospital once ran its glaucoma services. “It has worked because I have a wonderful team,” she reiterated.
Manchester Royal Eye Hospital won the best ophthalmology care innovation award, for the development of a real-time patient journey assessment platform.
Bournemouth Hospital nurse practitioner, Anne-Marie Lacey, was named the outstanding ophthalmology nurse of the year, while the prize for the unsung hero of ophthalmology was given to Cara Mitchell, the macular service coordinator at Bradford Teaching Hospitals.
To find out more, visit the Ophthalmology Awards website.
Image credit: Ophthalmology Honours/Bayer