Cross professional collaboration study to investigate the value of monitoring chronic eye care conditions in the community.

We are delighted to announce that a multidisciplinary team have won a substantial Research for Patient and Public Benefit (RfPPB) grant from Health and Care Research Wales (HCRW) to investigate the “value” of monitoring chronic (long standing) sight threatening conditions in the community. Over recent years the workload on the hospital eye service in the UK has continued to expand beyond the capability of the available workforce. Since 2017 Ophthalmology has had the highest number of outpatient episodes of any speciality in the NHS.

A number of novel approaches to managing this has developed across the UK. In Wales we have primarily pursued an upskilling of primary care Optometry. Optometrists are eyecare professionals that can work within the hospital environment, but more commonly work within the community providing eye examination services. Further training and qualification have allowed these primary care healthcare professionals to begin to provide services in the community that have historically been provided in the hospital setting. However what services are provided and where, are at present variable across the region. One reason for this variability is the lack of quality evidence to support the best approach to take. Therefore, this group, H2C Co-Lab Cymru (Hospital to Community Collaboration Cymru), have developed this project to better inform decisions taken at health board and Welsh government level.

The project is sponsored by Aneurin Bevan University Health Board and has representatives from across eyecare, health economics and patient benefit groups. This includes primary care (Optometry Wales), secondary care (Welsh Hospital Ophthalmology Departments), academic support from three major South Wales Universities (Cardiff, Swansea and South Wales). Further collaboration also comes from patient partners including Sight Cymru, the Macular Society, International Glaucoma Association, and the Wales Council for the blind.

We aim to define the “value” of community optometrists managing the common sight threatening eye conditions of Age-Related Macular Degeneration and Glaucoma, in the community. Value in this context will not only be financial costs but a patient centred focus on the right management in the right place at the right time.

Project Lead:

 Prof Barbara Ryan, Optometrist in Aneurin Bevan UHB  

Co-Applicants:

Prof Rachel North, Cardiff University School of Optometry

Prof Carolyn Wallace, University of South Wales

Dr Mark Davies, University of South Wales

Dr Phillipa Anderson, Head of the Centre for Health Economics, Swansea University

Dr Mari Jones, Centre of Health Economics, Swansea University.

Dr Bablin Molik, Chief Executive, Sight Cymru

Ms Rhianon Reynolds, Consultant Ophthalmologist Aneurin Bevan UHB

Sali Davies, Chief Executive, Optometry Wales