£10m investment to transform eye care in Wales

Eye care services in Wales will be improved thanks to £10m funding and a new performance measure for waiting times.

The new measure for eye care waiting times will be published to ensure those at highest risk of eye disease get the treatment and regular ongoing care they need.

The new measure is based on priority and urgency of care required by each individual patient. Priority is the risk of harm associated with the patient’s eye condition if the target appointment date is missed. Urgency is how soon that patient should be seen, given the current state and/or risk of progression of the condition.

The Welsh Government has provided £3.3m to enable health boards to make the necessary changes to meet the new guidelines. This is in addition to the £7m to introduce a new digital system for eye care in both primary and secondary care services across Wales.

The new digital system will include electronic referral from community optometry practices to hospital eye departments to connect the whole system, improve safety and speed up diagnosis and treatment.

The £3.3m investment will be used to expand or establish new community services, to ensure people are seen in the most appropriate setting and by the most appropriate person.

It will also help introduce and further develop virtual clinics and go towards training staff so that more professionals can carry out diagnosis and treatment.

Health Minister Vaughan Gething said: "Currently nearly 111,000 people in Wales are living with sight loss and this is predicted to double by 2050. Improving access and speeding up diagnosis are vital to ensure eye care services are fit for the future.

"We don’t want people to risk their sight by having to wait a long time for a follow-up appointment after having their initial assessment. This is why we are introducing the new performance measure together with £10m funding to transform the way we deliver eye care.

"A year ago today we launched our long term vision for health and social care, A Healthier Wales, which sets out how we need to transform the way we deliver services to meet the demand of the future. These changes, developed with ophthalmologists and the third sector, including RNIB Cymru, are an excellent example of the vision set-out in A Healthier Wales."

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