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Found 32 results
  1. News Article
    Hundreds of patients have lost their eyesight or had it irreparably damaged because of NHS backlogs, new research suggests. NHS England clinicians have filed 551 reports of patients who lost their sight as a result of delayed appointments since 2019, with 219 resulting in “moderate or severe harm”, according to an FoI request by the Association of Optometrists, which believes that hundreds more cases are unreported. Its chief executive, Adam Sampson, said sight loss was a “health emergency”, and urged ministers to introduce a national eye health strategy to enable high street and community optometrists to ease some of the burden on hospitals. He said: “There are good treatments available for common age-related eye conditions like macular degeneration but many hospital trusts simply do not have the capacity to deliver services. “Optometry is ideally placed to take away some of that burden – optometrists are already qualified to provide many of the extended services needed and are available on every high street, so patients can be treated closer to home. It’s incomprehensible and absolutely tragic that patients are waiting, losing their vision, in many parts of the country because of the way eye healthcare is commissioned.” Read full story Source: The Guardian, 21 March 2023
  2. News Article
    US health officials say that eyedrops may have killed one person and severely injured several others due to drug-resistant bacterial contamination. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have identified 68 patients across 16 states with a rare strain of Pseudomonas aeruginosa. The strain had never been found in the US before this latest outbreak. In addition to the one death, eight patients have suffered vision loss, and four have had eyes surgically removed. Most of the patients diagnosed with the infection reported using eyedrops and artificial tears, according to the CDC. Ten different brands were initially identified as possibly linked to the outbreak, the CDC said. Eyedrops that are made in India and imported to the US under two brands were subsequently pulled from shelves in January and February. Read full story Source: BBC News, 17 March 2023
  3. News Article
    Thousands of patients are being recalled for urgent eye checks after regulators raised safety concerns related to a product used in cataract surgery. It is thought around 20 trusts have suspended use of the EyeCee One lenses, after the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency warned of links to higher pressure in the eye, which can cause lost vision. The MHRA has issued an alert ordering trusts to recall patients who have had surgery since October, and estimates between 2 and 4 per cent of patients could have complications. The watchdog stressed reduced vision would only occur if patients were not treated. It is thought the complications could be down to the way the implant was being used in surgery, rather than the product itself. Read full story (paywalled) Source: HSJ, 7 February 2023
  4. Content Article
    Actions for ophthalmology, ophthalmic theatres, and Medical Devices Safety Officers. To be completed 26 January 2023 Please take the following actions immediately: Nominate a lead person to take responsibility for completing these actions. Note – we recommend including colleagues in purchasing, supplies, and the Medical Device Safety Officer (MDSO). Identify if your organisation uses these IOLs Stop using these impacted products immediately Quarantine these impacted IOLs until further notice. Consider using a suitable alternative product if available following local risk assessment Immediately notify any other departments who need to be aware of this notice.
  5. News Article
    An artificial intelligence (AI) tool that scans eyes can accurately predict a person’s risk of heart disease in less than a minute, researchers say. The breakthrough could enable ophthalmologists and other health workers to carry out cardiovascular screening on the high street using a camera – without the need for blood tests or blood pressure checks – according to the world’s largest study of its kind. Researchers found AI-enabled imaging of the retina’s veins and arteries can specify the risk of cardiovascular disease, cardiovascular death and stroke. They say the results could open the door to a highly effective, non-invasive test becoming available for people at medium to high risk of heart disease that does not have to be done in a clinic. “This AI tool could let someone know in 60 seconds or less their level of risk,” the lead author of the study, Prof Alicja Rudnicka, told the Guardian. If someone learned their risk was higher than expected, they could be prescribed statins or offered another intervention, she said. Speaking from a health conference in Copenhagen, Rudnicka, a professor of statistical epidemiology at St George’s, University of London, added: “It could end up improving cardiovascular health and save lives.” Read full story Source: The Guardian, 4 October 2022
  6. Content Article
    Making a decision about Dupuytren’s contracture Making a decision about carpal tunnel syndrome Making a decision about hip osteoarthritis Making a decision about knee osteoarthritis Making a decision about further treatment for atrial fibrillation Making a decision about cataracts Making a decision about glaucoma Making a decision about wet age-related macular degeneration
  7. News Article
    A woman has become blind after her monthly eye injections were delayed for four months during lockdown. Helen Jeremy, 73, said everything she enjoyed doing has "gone out of the window" after losing her eyesight. She has glaucoma and was diagnosed with age-related macular degeneration four years ago. Monthly injections controlled the condition and meant she could still drive and play the piano. However, her appointments were cancelled when the pandemic struck and her eyesight deteriorated. "I was panicking. It was terrifying. Because I'm a widow I'm on my own and it was awful," she said. "Suddenly my eyesight was basically gone. By the time of my next appointment I was told there was no point in going on with these injections because the damage had been done to the back of my eye." Thousands more people in Wales are at risk of "irreversible sight loss" because of treatment delays, RNIB Cymru warns. The Welsh Government said health boards are working to increase services. Read full story Source: BBC News, 27 November 2020
  8. News Article
    Labour is demanding new investment for the NHS as part of the government’s spending review next week, after analysis shows hundreds of thousands of patients are waiting for life-changing operations. The party’s shadow health secretary, Jonathan Ashworth, will challenge Matt Hancock in Parliament on today over the latest NHS data, which reveal almost 500,000 patients are waiting for surgery on their hips, knees and other bones. Last week, NHS England published new data showing more than 1.7 million people were waiting longer than the NHS target of 18-weeks for treatment. The target was last met in February 2016. An analysis of NHS England data reveal which specialities have been hardest hit by the growing backlog of operations, which has soared since the first wave of coronavirus caused widespread hospital cancellations earlier this year. There were 4.3 million patients on NHS waiting lists for hospital treatments in September. Labour said this included 477,250 waiting for trauma and orthopaedic surgery, with 252,247 patients waiting over 18 weeks. The next worst specialty was ophthalmology, which treats eye disorders, with 444,828 patients on waiting lists, 233,425 of whom have waited more than 18 weeks. There were six figure waiting lists over 18 weeks for other specialties including gynaecology, urology, general surgery, and ear, nose and throat patients. Read full story Source: 17 November 2020
  9. News Article
    The East of England has been revealed as the worst-performing region for long ophthalmology waits, with almost half the waiting list at one acute trust already breaching the 52-week milestone. Eleven per cent of the region’s 59,000 ophthalmology patients had already been waiting more than a year for treatment at the end of February, compared to 6 per cent in London, the best performing region. West Suffolk Foundation Trust — which is in health and social care secretary Matt Hancock’s local constituency — had by far the biggest problem on this measure of any trust in England, with 42% of the waiting list (660 patients) referred for treatment more than a year ago. Papers submitted to West Suffolk FT’s board meeting in April said there were “limited option[s] for independent sector capacity” and patients were reluctant to travel to other hospitals for treatment. The trust did not respond when asked to comment. Read full story (paywalled) Source: HSJ, 13 May 2021
  10. News Article
    Delays due to the COVID-19 crisis have created tens of thousands of year-long waiters for ophthalmology treatment, and a surgery backlog which experts say may never be recovered. NHS England provisional data shows the number of people waiting 52 weeks or longer for ophthalmology treatment increased to more than 23,000 in December, up 57,580% on just 40 the year before. Experts say ophthalmology procedures have been hit particularly hard by the cancellation of elective work due to COVID-19 pressures. On average, roughly 130,000 ophthalmology patients completed treatment per month in England in 2019, most of which would likely have been cataract surgeries. Royal College of Ophthalmologists professional standards chair Melanie Hingorani told HSJ that many in the discipline feared “traditional” ways of working were too “fragmented” to address the size of the challenge. She said that without a “much more innovative” approach it would be “really difficult” to deal with the surgery backlog on ophthalmology and that clearing it could take “two years, maybe longer”. There remained a danger, however, she added that: “Maybe we never catch up”. Read full story (paywalled) Source: HSJ, 1 March 2021
  11. News Article
    The coronavirus can linger in patients’ eyes for several weeks and could act as a way of spreading the COVID-19 disease, according new study from Italy. Scientists at Italy’s National Institute for Infectious Diseases hospital in Rome studied the symptoms of an unnamed 65-year-old woman who developed the virus after travelling from the Chinese city of from Wuhan. When the woman developed conjunctivitis – an eye infection causing redness and itchiness – doctors decided to take regular swabs from her eye. They discovered the virus remained present in “ocular samples” up to 21 days after she was admitted to hospital. The team said the findings, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, indicated that eye fluids from coronavirus patients “may be a potential source of infection”. The study authors said: “These findings highlight the importance of control measures, such as avoiding touching the nose, mouth, and eyes and frequent hand washing.” Read full story Source: The Independent, 24 April 2020
  12. News Article
    Herefordshire clinicians injected a patient in the wrong eye after a technical blunder, board papers have revealed. The Wye Valley Trust patient was injected with an antivascular endothelial growth factor to treat age-related macular degeneration. They did not come to harm as a result of the incident. The mistake occurred after the ophthalmology department deleted a poor quality image of one of the patient’s eyes. This shifted up the other images, which were stored sequentially using software called IMAGEnet6, which led to the mistake. Although initially reported as a “never event,” the incident was downgraded to a “serious incident” after a review by the Herefordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG). The trust, which is still using the software, is updating its standard operating procedure and has installed new technology that can take higher quality images. A spokesman said: “Patient safety is the trust’s priority. While no harm was caused to this patient, the trust has taken this incident seriously.” Read full story (paywalled) Source: HSJ, 21 January 2020
  13. News Article
    Delays to follow-up appointments for glaucoma patients leaves them at risk of sight loss, the Healthcare Investigation Safety Branch (HSIB) warns in their new report. The report highlights the case of a 34-year old woman who lost her sight as a result of 13 months of delays to follow-up appointments. Lack of timely follow-up for glaucoma patients is a recognised national issue across the NHS. Research suggests that around 22 patients a month will suffer severe or permanent sight loss as a result of the delays. In HSIB’s reference case, the patient saw seven different ophthalmologists and the time between her initial referral to hospital eye services (HES) and laser eye surgery was 11 months. By this time her sight had deteriorated so badly, she was registered as severely sight impaired. The investigation identified that there is inadequate HES capacity to meet demand for glaucoma services, and that better, smarter ways of working should be implemented to maximise the current capacity. The report makes several safety recommendations focused on the management and prioritisation of appointments. Helen Lee, RNIB Policy and Campaigns Manager, said: “This report has brought vital attention to a serious and dangerous lack of specialist staff and space in NHS ophthalmology services across the country. We know that thousands of patients in England are experiencing delays in time-critical eye care appointments, which is leading to irreversible sight loss for some." “Without immediate action, the situation will only continue to deteriorate as the demand for appointments increases. RNIB urges full and immediate implementation of the recommendations set out in this report to improve the capacity, efficiency and effectiveness of ophthalmology services.” Read full story Source: HSIB, 9 January 2020
  14. News Article
    At least three people died and more came to ‘severe harm’ after treatment delays across three specialties at one hospital trust, new reports have revealed. King’s College Hospital Foundation Trust commissioned harm reviews due to problems with a lack of capacity and poor management of waiting lists in endoscopy, dermatology and ophthalmology pre-pandemic. Most of the problems relate to the trust’s southern site, Princess Royal University Hospital, and took place before the current executive team took over. The most recent board papers revealed a review of 614 cases at the PRUH’s endoscopy service found seven cases of “serious harm”. This category includes death and the document revealed three patients had died. The review also “highlighted delays in endoscopy leading to delayed diagnoses of cancer” in 2018-19 and 2019-20. Investigators also found a dermatology patient came to “severe harm” after being lost to follow-up twice by the trust. Read full story (paywalled) Source: HSJ, 17 September 2021
  15. Content Article
    Key points: The sustained impact of the pandemic will leave a backlog of care in excess of anything seen over the last 12 years. Although urgent and emergency procedures have largely been maintained, much of the growth in waiting lists comes from low priority, high-volume procedures for conditions ranging from painful bone and joint conditions, to ear, nose and throat and ophthalmology. Our modelling suggests that to maintain any sense of control over the NHS waiting list, the NHS will need to increase capacity considerably above levels than have previously been sustained. Our members are embracing best practice, as represented by the Getting It Right First Time programme (GIRFT), and innovating to support waiting list management but will need further support to make inroads into the backlog. The existing framework for elective care, which is based around organisations and tariff, is widely accepted as not being fit for purpose to resolve growing lists and the increasing backlog. Without a comprehensive new plan, the government faces the politically unacceptable legacy of hundreds of thousands of patients left on waiting lists with deteriorating conditions for the remainder of the parliament. Our members want to see whole-system thinking to manage waiting lists between trusts, and deeper partnerships with primary and community care, supported by real-time patient data. Small amounts of quick capital will help to create ‘hot and cold’ hospital sites, which will increase efficiency, while funding support for the voluntary sector will help patients to receive more care and support as they wait for their procedures. The intensity of the pandemic response has had a marked impact on NHS staff and left the healthcare workforce in a fragile state. In many areas, the same group of staff who have worked through the pandemic, and who are delivering the vaccination programme, will be asked to step up once again to recover backlogs. Any plan that fails to recognise this is unlikely to succeed. The additional £1bn agreed in the Spending Review for 2021/22 will not be enough to clear the backlog. The healthcare sector will need honesty from political leaders to help manage the inevitable change in public opinion when there are further delays in treatment. By creating a long-term framework for the recovery of elective care that is efficient, patient focused and equitable, the NHS can make fast progress on recovering its elective care position. As part of that, it will be important to rethink the way that waiting lists are measured, as many of the performance standards are no longer fit for purpose. This briefing focuses on the elective backlog. Similar pressures will be faced across the NHS, from a surge in demand for mental health support, to increased need for community services and increased demand on primary care. While our members are innovating and driving service improvement at local level, more support is required from government in its public messaging. This would help the NHS to clarify priorities and facilitate an honest public debate on the scale of the challenge and the measures to resolve it. Download the full briefing via the link below or the attached document.
  16. Content Article
    Areas and scenarios covered in the eyecare playbook include examples of digital tools and solutions to help with communication, improving referrals, setting up virtual clinics, remote consultations and self-monitoring, as well as sharing clinical data and images. A step-by-step, recommended eye care pathway is also featured covering stages from primary care, referrals and diagnostics, through to outpatients and day surgery, and finally, community care and supported self-care. Some of the innovative case studies featured include examples from: NHS Grampian’s Eye Health Network Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS FT County Durham and Darlington NHS FT The Royal College of Ophthalmologists Bolton NHS Trust FT East Kent Hospitals University NHS FT Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS FT The University of Strathclyde and NHS Forth Valley Digital tools and solutions highlighted stretch from home visual acuity testing and remote vision monitoring for macular disease, through to secure video messaging service examples, smartphone-based lenses for image capturing and referrals, virtual glaucoma clinics, and integration platforms.
  17. News Article
    East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust has adopted artificial intelligence (AI) to test the health of patient’s eyes. In collaboration with doctors at the trust, the University of Kent has developed AI computer software able to detect signs of eye disease. Patients will benefit from a machine-based method that compares new images of the eye with previous patient images to monitor clinical signs and notify the doctor if their condition has worsened. Nishal Patel, an Ophthalmology Consultant at the Trust and teacher at the University said: “We are seeing more and more people with retinal disease and machines can help with some of the capacity issues faced by our department and others across the country." “We are not taking the job of a doctor away, but we are making it more efficient and at the same time helping determine how artificial intelligence will shape the future medicine. By automating some of the decisions, so that stable patients can be monitored and unstable patients treated earlier, we can offer better outcomes for our patients.” Read full story Source: National Health Executive, 22 November 2019
  18. News Article
    Proposals for primary care networks to evolve into more collaborative “integrated neighbourhood teams” to improve access to care have been broadly welcomed. A “stocktake” report commissioned by NHS England, published on 26 May, called for urgent same day appointments to be dealt with by “single, urgent care teams” for every neighbourhood with greater use of a range of health and social care professionals. The report, written by Claire Fuller, a general practitioner and chief executive of Surrey Heartlands Integrated Care System, undertaken by Dr Claire Fuller, Chief Executive-designate Surrey Heartlands Integrated Care System and GP on integrated primary care, looks at what is working well, why it’s working well and how we can accelerate the implementation of integrated primary care (incorporating the current 4 pillars of general practice, community pharmacy, dentistry and optometry) across systems. Doctors’ leaders welcomed many of the report’s recommendations but emphasised that they could only work if the government resourced primary care practices better and tackled workforce shortages. Read full story (paywalled) Source: BMJ, 27 May 2022
  19. News Article
    Hundreds of people who had retinal implants to improve their sight face an uncertain future as the technology they rely on is now obsolete. Second Sight stopped making its Argus II bionic eyes several years ago to focus on a brain implant instead. According to IEEE Spectrum it is now hoping to merge with a biopharmaceutical firm which does not make eye implants. IEEE Spectrum reports that Second Sight actually discontinued its retinal implants - which effectively take the place of photoreceptors in the eye to create a form of artificial vision - in 2019. Patients contacted by IEEE Spectrum voiced concern. One, Ross Doerr, said Second Sight failed to contact any of its patients after its financial difficulties in 2020. "Those of us with this implant are figuratively and literally in the dark," he said. Another user, Jeroen Perk, had problems when his VPU system broke in November 2020. "I had no vision, no Argus, and no support from Second Sight," he said. Elizabeth M Renieris, professor of technology ethics at the University of Notre Dame, in the US, described the development as a cautionary tale. She told the BBC: "This is a prime example of our increasing vulnerability in the face of high-tech, smart and connected devices which are proliferating in the healthcare and biomedical sectors." "These are not like off-the-shelf products or services that we can actually own or control. Instead we are dependent on software upgrades, proprietary methods and parts, and the commercial drivers and success or failure of for-profit ventures." Ethical considerations around such technology should in future include "autonomy, dignity, and accountability", she added. Read full story Source: BBC News, 17 February 2022
  20. News Article
    Healthcare leaders have been warned by nearly 200 doctors that plans to give more work to private hospitals will “drain” money and staff away from NHS services, leaving the most ill patients at risk. In a letter, seen by The Independent, almost 200 ophthalmologists urged NHS leaders to rethink plans to contact cataract services to private sector hospitals as it “drains money away from patient care into private pockets as well as poaching staff trained in the NHS.” The doctors have called for “urgent action” to stop a new contract from being released which would allow private sector hospitals to take over more cataract services. They raised concerns NHS ophthalmology services would fall into the same crisis at NHS dentistry which would have “blinding consequences” for patients. One of the lead authors of the letter told The Independent the plans would mean there are not enough NHS staff available to carry out more complex surgeries where patients are at risk of losing their eyesight. Read full story Source: The Independent, 10 February 2022
  21. News Article
    A major IT incident at an acute trust is disrupting treatment for eye patients after a significant data loss, it has emerged. Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals Trust chief executive Richard Beeken revealed to his trust’s board that a data loss incident in December had “impacted on staff and patient care” after disrupting 20 systems across the organisation. Recovery of the full data set for patients receiving treatment at the Birmingham and Midland Eye Centre is still under way, and some have had operations postponed. Despite the incident, ophthalmologists are continuing to see the majority of patients, Mr Beeken said, telling HSJ: “[Numbers affected] are being kept to a minimum through the extraordinary efforts of the clinical team who are putting in extra hours to reassess each patient’s needs.” Scanning continues in the majority of cases and the trust is pressing on with recovery work for all historic images and patient contact details, though leaders believe the chances of 100% data recovery are “still slim”. No patient data was extracted during the incident and the information commissioner was made aware. Read full story (paywalled) Source: HSJ, 10 January 2022