Closer to home care on the High Street pilot to be launched in Wales

Funded by Welsh Government, five optometry practices will provide patient pathways for glaucoma, macular degeneration, diabetic eye disease and eye casualty services

pilot participants
A pilot that is designed to provide patients with eye care “in the right place at the right time and closer to home” will be launched in five optometry practices across Wales by Cardiff and Vale University Health Board this month (March).

The project, which is being funded by Welsh Government, will see the five optometry practices, called ophthalmic diagnostic treatment centres, provide enhanced patient pathways for glaucoma, macular degeneration, diabetic eye disease and eye casualty services.

Patients will be referred to and receive the required tests and treatment in a High Street practice, with a hospital consultant able to virtually review images. Practices will be connected to their local hospital’s IT system, providing them with access to the patient’s electronic ophthalmology record.

Speaking about the pilot, optometrist and optometric advisor to Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, Sharon Beatty, told OT: “It’s about care closer to home and being seen by the right person at the right place at the right time.”

“We are looking to increase capacity in eye clinics and reduce waiting times for patients,” Ms Beatty added.

The optometrist confirmed that during the 12-month pilot, practices anticipate seeing thousands of patients through the initiative.

An ongoing evaluation of the project will be performed throughout the pilot by optometrist and research associate at Cardiff University, Angharad Hobby, who highlighted that the two main areas that will be assessed will be patient reported outcome measures and patient reported experience measures. This is due to support from Accelerate, a collaboration between Welsh universities and the Life Science Hub Wales, that helps translate innovative ideas into new services from the health and care sector.

Ms Hobby explained: “It’s important to have the patient outcomes and experiences at the centre of this initiative because we want to make sure that they are receiving as good of a service in the community as they would in the hospital, if not better.”

Sharing what the success of the pilot will look like, Ms Beatty said: “We want good patient satisfaction; patients seen within a certain timeframe; and more capacity created in the hospital so higher risk patients are seen more quickly by consultant ophthalmologists.”