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97 per cent of patients happy with new glaucoma clinic run by private company

PUBLISHED: 08:10 12 February 2018 | UPDATED: 08:24 12 February 2018

Glaucoma clinic

Glaucoma clinic

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Patients in west Suffolk are benefitting from a ‘virtual’ glaucoma service that has cut the time a patient had to wait for a test and review by half, according to West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust.

Gayon Weli, Newmedica optomotrist with patient, Gavin Gayon Weli, Newmedica optomotrist with patient, Gavin

Patients in west Suffolk are benefitting from a ‘virtual’ glaucoma service that has cut the time a patient had to wait for a test and review by half, according to West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust.

The trust is trumpeting the innovation, that allows patients to see a specialist opthalmolgist from private company Newmedica for a variety of tests and advice about the condition instead of several different staff at the hospital.

The trust says that the ‘virtual eye clinic’ that was set up two years ago has slashed patient waiting time and that the Newmedica team reviews around 100 to 120 patients test results every week, resulting in faster diagnosis and treatment.

Previously patients with or at risk of glaucoma would have been offered an appointment with a hospital consultant for both a follow-up test and a review, which the trust says took around double the time per patient compared to the service delivered alongside Newmedica.

Mr Inderraj Hanspal, consultant ophthalmologist and clinical lead at West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Previously, to keep up with demand, we were running nine doctors’ clinics a week as well as additional clinics at weekends. We had to employ locum doctors to help manage demand, but can now help the same amount of patients with only five doctors’ clinics a week and no additional glaucoma clinics at weekends. This not only saves vital NHS resources, but means the time I was spending doing tests can now be with my high risk patients with more complicated conditions and progressive glaucoma.” Glaucoma is the name given to a group of eye conditions that cause permanent sight loss by damaging the optic nerve. Most types of glaucoma have no symptoms in the early stages, so a regular eye test is the only way to know if you have the condition.

Mr Hanspal said: “We are offering a much better service to our patients’ because new referrals can be tested out in the community. This is saving around 80 per cent of our patients’ time, with only around 20 per cent of these new patients needing to meet a consultant in hospital.”

Emma Wilden, service manager for the Suffolk community glaucoma service at Newmedica, said: “We are very pleased to be working with Mr Hanspal and the team at West Suffolk Hospital. Working closely with clinicians across the community means we can deliver the best possible eye care for patients.“In December 2017, 97% of patients seen at the clinic would recommend the service to their friends and families. This shows the high level of patient care and satisfaction that this collaborative service provides.”Dr Christopher Browning, chairman, NHS West Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “This community glaucoma service is certainly benefiting patients, who are receiving good care as well as having the peace of mind that their eyes are being checked in a clinical setting. It is certainly pleasing that those patients are reporting such high levels of satisfaction.“This is another example of how delivering more services in the community can deliver positive results for patients and give hospital consultants more time to deal with the most serious cases.”

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