A pilot scheme is being launched this month which will see Scarborough opticians playing a greater role in looking after cataract patients.
The project is being rolled out by NHS Scarborough and Ryedale Clinical Commissioning Group’s as part of their commitment to improving local health services.
Currently, if a patient thinks they may have a cataract, they will typically be referred by their optician for an assessment at hospital.
If surgery is deemed appropriate, they will then need to return to hospital for the surgery and then again for any follow-up appointments.
Under the new system, both the initial assessment and follow-up appointments can be undertaken by the patient’s optician, resulting in a streamlined service and greater convenience for patients.
Dr Peter Billingsley, lead for the project, said: “We believe that providing pre and post-operative assessments at local opticians will benefit around 1,000 patients per year.
“Not only is it far more convenient for patients to visit their local optician as opposed to hospital, but it will also free up space at the hospital so they are able to focus on providing cataract surgery.
“We hope this will reduce waiting times for cataract surgery which have historically been far longer than we would expect.”
The scheme is initially being introduced for a six to nine month period, after which time the benefits will be reviewed and a decision made about whether to make the changes more permanent. All participating opticians are fully trained to be able to offer this new service.
Darryl Taylor, chairman of the North Yorkshire Local Optical Committee, said: “The committee is delighted to be involved in the delivery of this initiative.
“The pilots will streamline the patient journey and ensure a quality, accessible service closer to home. We also look forward to working more closely with our colleagues at the hospital trust.”
Angela Cavill, manager at Scarborough Blind and Partially Sighted Society, added: “Our society is so pleased to hear about this new initiative. Anything that reduces waiting times for patients who are feeling anxious about their sight is welcomed.”