Sunderland eye specialists could give NHS masterclasses to help clear pandemic backlogs

Eye specialists in Sunderland could give NHS masterclasses to help clear backlogs caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Tuesday, 18th May 2021, 5:38 pm
Eye specialists in Sunderland could give NHS masterclasses to help clear backlogs caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Waiting lists for routine procedures have soared across England since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, reaching 4.7 million earlier this year (April) – the most since 2007.

But now Wearside’s experts are hoping a government scheme will help them share their expertise and get patients the treatment they need.

“Even without the impact of Covid-19, demand for ophthalmology services and treatments like cataract surgery is growing year-on-year and we’ve worked hard to continuously improve how we deliver our services in Sunderland,” said Jean-Pierre Danjoux a consultant ophthalmologist at South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust (STSFT).

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“Our focus has always been on the quality of care and thinking about the patient experience from the start to finish of their treatment pathway.

“In doing so, we’ve also made great strides to improve the overall efficiency of the service and the number of patients we can see.

“Ultimately it is about great teamwork which has been pivotal to the success of the Regional Cataract Treatment Centre and something which we are always very happy and proud to share for the wider benefit of patients right across our region.”

Danjoux, who is also STSFT’s clinical director for ophthalmology, was speaking following confirmation of a government programme worth £160 million to tackle waiting lists nationally.

At about 400,000 every year, cataract operations are among the most common surgeries carried out by the NHS, with Wearside considered one of the leading areas.

In February, STSFT had an average waiting time of just seven weeks for ophthalmology services.

Before the pandemic, surgeons at Sunderland Eye Infirmary regularly managed 12 ‘routine cataract operations’ in just four hours, against a target of eight.

Even now they can deal with up to 10 patients over the same period, while also observing social distancing and other prevention measures.

Lyn Simpson, joint chair of the North East and North Cumbria Provider Collaborative, added: “Our focus will be on prioritising those with the most urgent clinical need, those waiting the longest and on ensuring equal access to treatment for those parts of our communities which have been hardest hit by the pandemic.

“This joined up approach is important as we know there are different levels of capacity across the region and it’s only by working together we can really deliver what is required for our patients.”

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