Sight loss charity raises concerns over treatment waiting times

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Press Release | 27/06/2019

Scotland’s largest vision impairment charity is urging the Scottish Government to take action to ensure all patients in Scotland seeking treatment for eye conditions are seen within national waiting time guidelines.

 

The call from Royal Blind comes after figures from a Freedom of Information request revealed that a number of health board areas are breaching the target. The figures released to Royal Blind indicate that six health board areas are breached the twelve week (84 days) waiting times guarantee for inpatient and day cases for the quarter ending 31st March. These are:

 

NHS Borders: 92 days

NHS Grampian: 143 days

NHS Highland : 118 days

NHS Orkney: 156 days

NHS Shetland: 91 days

NHS Tayside: 116 days.

 

Royal Blind is calling on health boards and the Scottish Government to ensure the resources and specialist staff are in place so that waiting times guidelines are met in all parts of Scotland in the future. The charity has welcomed dialogue which has been established with the Scottish Government to discuss proposals for a new national community low vision service. There are around 170,000 people living in Scotland with significant sight loss, and the number of people in Scotland with vision impairment in Scotland is predicted to increase to over 200,000 by 2030.

 

Responding to the figures, Mark O’Donnell, Chief Executive of Royal Blind and Scottish War Blinded said:

 

“While it is welcome that almost all health boards are meeting waiting time targets for outpatient appointments, a number of health boards are not meeting these targets for inpatients and day cases. In some instances, boards are missing this target by several weeks. This is deeply concerning, because for many eye conditions it is essential they are treated quickly to secure the best outcome for the patient.

 

“It is vital that health boards and the Scottish Government now act to ensure all health boards meet waiting time guarantees for ophthalmology patients. Earlier this year the Royal College of Ophthalmologists produced its workforce census which actually showed there had been a decrease in the number of Consultant Ophthalmologists in Scotland at a time of rising demands.  Action is required to show the specialist staff and resources are in place to ensure all patients with sight loss conditions get the treatment they need, when they need it. We are very encouraged that the Scottish Government is positively considering proposals for a new national community low vision service which we believe could help address these challenges.”

 

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