Patient backlogs in ophthalmology care – a healthcare emergency?

Given the busy news agenda over the last few days, a significant piece of news about patient backlogs in ophthalmology care has missed the headlines somewhat.

A Freedom of Information Act request by the Association of Optometrists has revealed that there have been over 200 reports made by NHS clinicians to NHS England of patients losing their sight due to delay in treatment. In addition, figures reveal that over 600,000 people are currently waiting for ophthalmology appointments. This is the second largest NHS backlog presently.

A crisis and a burgeoning healthcare emergency

Charity chiefs and people working in the eyecare field have described the situation as a crisis and a burgeoning healthcare emergency. There is currently a campaign #SightWontWait to persuade the government to put in place a national eye health strategy to find ways in which patients can access the care they need more quickly.

The campaign is lobbying for a change in the way healthcare is commissioned so that community ophthalmological providers play a greater role, thus freeing up NHS hospital services.

Time critical conditions

Certain eye conditions such as macular degeneration and glaucoma are time critical and avoidable harm can result if care is not provided in a timely fashion. If the result of delay is either partial or full loss of vision, then healthcare providers are potentially looking at costly medical negligence claims.

These put even more financial pressure on an already stretched health service; not to mention the social cost of the loss of independence and the actual cost of providing support services to those who have lost their sight unnecessarily.

Our expertise

A few short years ago Moore Barlow acted for a young patient whose glaucoma diagnosis was avoidably delayed and caused her vision to deteriorate so badly that she was registered as sight impaired. We referred the case to the Health Service Investigation Board which is tasked by the Government with conducting independent investigations into patient safety concerns in NHS funded care.

Its conclusions, found in this report, was that there was inadequate NHS capacity to meet demand for services and that better ways of working should be implemented.

In short, those recommendations mirror the points still being made now although it is likely that the problem is even worse, post pandemic. It is hoped that the campaign will bring about real change in this regard.

How Moore Barlow can help

Our experienced medical negligence team includes lawyers dual-qualified as nurses and doctors with many years’ experience of working in the NHS and in bringing sight loss claims whether against hospitals, GP’s or other healthcare providers. We have a consistently strong track record and are regarded as leaders in the field.

Sight loss settlements are often substantial as the effects on individuals are usually quite extensive often leading to an inability to work and the need for extensive help with everyday living. With Moore Barlow you can be sure of receiving the support of experienced specialist medical negligence solicitors who will work with you to deliver the best results for you.

Find out more about how we can help