Clinics overstretched

Clinics overstretched

Overstretched eye clinics are reaching breaking point

  • New research reveals that delays in diagnosis, treatment and follow up care are resulting in people losing their sight
  • Eye clinic staff describe their working conditions as ‘chaotic’ and ‘running from one crisis to another’.
  • RNIB urges patients to know their rights and take action

Patients are going blind because of capacity problems in eye clinics across England, according to new research by the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB).

With many commissioners and hospital managers clearly failing patients, RNIB is calling on the public to know and exercise their legal rights, and is warning that a lack of capacity could lead to hospital trusts facing many more clinical negligence claims.

Responding to a survey, staff working in ophthalmology units expressed serious doubts over the ability of clinics to meet demand. Over 80 per cent said their eye department has insufficient capacity to meet current demand, with 94 per cent reporting that future capacity will not meet rising demand. The ageing population and demand for services across a broad range of conditions were flagged as the main reasons for the increase in patient numbers.

A worrying 37 per cent of staff said that patients are ‘sometimes’ losing their sight unnecessarily due to delayed treatment and follow up care caused by capacity problems. A further 4 per cent said they believed this loss of sight is happening ‘often’.

“These statistics are shameful”

RNIB’s Chief Executive, Lesley-Anne Alexander CBE said: “These statistics are shameful as nobody should lose their sight from a treatable condition simply because their eye clinic is too busy to provide care in a clinically appropriate timescale.

Full RNIB report