The emergency phone number for Sunderland Eye Infirmary was introduced during the pandemic to ease pressures on hospitals and to support social distancing.
Patients with an urgent eye condition or injury are asked to contact the telephone number on 0191 569 9952 to seek advice, rather than turn up in person at the Sunderland Eye Infirmary’s Emergency Eye Department without an appointment.
Patients would then receive a phone consultation with an eye specialist practitioner or nurse over the phone. If the patient then needs to be seen face-to-face, further arrangements can be made.
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Consultant Ophthalmologist, Mr Ajay Kotagiri, South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust’s Clinical Director for Ophthalmology, said: “Whilst the emergency phone line was launched in response to the pandemic, we have had lots of feedback from patients calling for it to remain in place.
“The service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week and provides patients with immediate advice and reassurance on a number of urgent eye conditions and injuries.
“In many cases, patients with minor conditions have been safely reassured over the phone and those with more serious problems now benefit from a pre-arranged time to attend the emergency eye department so we are ready to treat them straight away.
“This means patients are getting the right advice, diagnosis and treatment at the right time and in a way that is much more convenient for them.”
It has been praised by patients who have used the service, with 92% of patients surveyed rating their experience as positive or fairly positive and 94% saying that the emergency phone line should continue to be offered.
The 24/7 phone line has helped to reduce the numbers of patients making unnecessary trip to the emergency eye department by providing advice and reassurance over the phone.
To protect patients and staff, the trust is keeping infection, prevention and control measures in place and asking all patients and visitors to wear a mask, social distance and wash their hands regularly when in its buildings.