I was delighted to attend an APPG parliamentary reception on Eye Health and Visual Impairment to hear more about its report following an inquiry into health services for eye care. The report found that the current eye health system is failing patients although it says this can be fixed if the NHS prioritises eye health and action is taken immediately. The inquiry calls for urgent action and has the support of key organisations including RNIB, the Optical Confederation, and the Royal College of Ophthalmologists.
There were almost 7.6 million ophthalmology appointments in 2016/17 in England, but just over half of patients told the inquiry they had experienced at least one appointment or treatment being delayed. Seventy-seven per cent of patients felt this caused them anxiety or stress, and 54 per cent felt it had a negative impact on their day-to-day life.
Patients also expressed concerns about long waiting times, problems securing appointments, a lack of continuity in their care, and poor communication from the clinic.
The report calls for the Health Secretary, NHS England, the Department of Health and Social Care, local authorities, commissioners, delivery bodies, NHS providers and Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships (STPs) to act now. I certainly agree that eye health should be made a priority to ensure that no one in my constituency or elsewhere loses their sight from a treatable condition simply because the eye clinic is too busy to provide the necessary care in good time.