People across Hampshire and Isle of Wight are urged not to ignore eye problems as the number of patients across the region seeking care for urgent eye conditions drops during the Coronavirus pandemic. Southampton City and West Hampshire Clinical Commissioning Groups have launched a new innovative service called COVID Urgent Eyecare Services (CUES) to support urgent eye care needs. This service is not for routine eye examinations but for people in the area who need urgent eye care. They should contact any opticians or call NHS 111 without delay. The sooner treatment can be provided the better the chances of eye health recovery.
The CUES service will be delivered by local opticians in partnership with hospital ophthalmology services. The service will use technology to provide remote consultations to patients meaning more patients will be able to access services, either at or close to home, reducing the need for travel and hospital visits. The service provides the quickest access to the right care for patients. This is crucial as delays to treatment can have a serious impact on long-term eye health, and in some cases even sight loss. Access to early help, via the CUES service, will increase the likelihood of a positive eye health outcome for patients.
Patients in the area can access the service by first contacting any local opticians or by calling NHS 111. They will then be provided with a remote consultation and a personalised care plan appropriate to their condition. The care plan may support the patient to self-manage their condition or provide further professional advice and guidance, including appropriate prescriptions. In the event that a face to face consultation is absolutely necessary, patients may be referred to another location or hospital service. Measures have been put in place in hospitals and other services to reduce the risk of patients being exposed to, or passing on, Coronavirus.
Jane Bell, Chair of the Local Eye Health Network, said:
“The new CUES service offers patients timely professional care in a safe place that is appropriate to each patient and in keeping with social distancing rules. I would encourage all patients with eye problems to contact any opticians or call NHS 111 as soon as possible. The earlier their eye problem can be treated the better, as this will reduce the likelihood of any long-term effects on their eye health.”
Dr Adrian Higgins, Medical Director of West Hampshire CCG, said:
“This is a first step to getting NHS eye services back to normal following the Covid-19 pandemic, and will ensure people can access the services and advice they need to protect their eyesight.The NHS is working hard to keep you safe during the pandemic but you can still get help if you need it. If you are having issues with your eyes please don’t put it off or delay treatment. There is no need to do so and the consequences on your sight could be detrimental.”
Dr Mark Rickenbach, GP at Park Surgery, Chandlers Ford, said:
“Despite Covid there is now a full optometrist lead integrated service for eye care, do use this and help improve the care of your patients locally. CUES will provide a really effective first point of access eye care service using local optometrists. Empowering the patient and the optometrist to care for the medical side of population eye needs.”
Rachael Smith, Director at Rawlings Opticians, said:
“CUES will continue to reduce the need for GP or hospital visits, freeing up doctors time and reducing footfall in already busy hospital departments. Expert Optometrist care that can be accessed nearer a patients home or by telemedicine is more convenient for the patient, allows faster access, and reduces footfall to the highly pressured hospital and GP surgery environments.”