Rising waiting list for chronic eye disease sufferers in Northamptonshire as hospitals are several thousand appointments short

The county's two hospitals are several thousands of outpatient eye appointments short of what is needed.
The county's two hospitals are several thousands of outpatient eye appointments short of what is needed.

There is a rising waiting list for those with chronic eye disease in Northamptonshire and the county’s two hospitals could be several thousand eye appointments short each year of what is needed.

A review of eye care services undertaken by the Northamptonshire Health Care Partnership on the request of NHS England to all health systems has shown that there is a growing issue with a rising waiting list for follow-up appointments.

The problem is in line with a national trend and is being put down to an ageing population. It is predicted that the cost of eye care services to the NHS will rise by 20 per cent by 2030.

After undertaking the study last month (March) it was found that Northampton General is 4,500 follow-up appointments short of the total needed to meet need. Kettering General Hospital has not as yet confirmed exact figures but they are thought to be in the same range.

A report before the county’s clinical commissioning group yesterday said the study had: “revealed an underlying issue in that our rate of referrals for ophthalmology appears to have marginally increased over the past three years (2016 – 2019), there appears to be a rising waiting list and a slight declining performance against the Referral to Treatment (RTT) standard.

“Most importantly specific questions being asked revealed that there was an issue with people who required multiple follow ups growing in the system for both acute trusts.”

In order to tackle the problem the Nene and Corby CCGs have agreed to put in place a system to maximise capacity in the system. A local harm review has also been started to find out if any harm has occurred as a result of the outpatients waiting for appointments.

A review is also taking place to better understand the problem.