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High street cataract and glaucoma tests to reduce NHS waiting lists

High street cataract and glaucoma tests to reduce NHS waiting lists?

Tuesday 30 January 2024

Labour's recent proposition, voiced by shadow health minister Karin Smyth at the Institute for Government (IFG), suggests a shift in handling certain eye conditions to high-street opticians. This move aims to address the significant backlog in NHS eye care services, with current figures showing about 620,000 patients awaiting treatment and 17,000 of them for more than a year.

The party's plan involves negotiating a national deal to allow routine outpatient eye care, such as cataract pre-assessments, operation follow-ups, and glaucoma monitoring, to be conducted in high-street opticians using the existing budget. This approach is proposed as a means to alleviate the pressure on hospital services, potentially enabling specialists to focus on more critical cases.

Support for this plan comes from various quarters, including expert ophthalmologists. Prof Ben Burton, President of the Royal College of Ophthalmologists, commented that it was a “positive commitment to supporting eye care patients and we would offer our clinical expertise to shape this policy if delivered in government”.

What do you think of this proposal? Comment below.


  1. The Guardian:


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  • John
    30 Jan 2024

    At least part of this proposal already exists; my optician in Cambridgeshire does cataract pre-assessments.

  • Judy Cunniffe
    30 Jan 2024

    I would be a little nervous that my local Eye Hospital, in Brighton, which is brilliant, might be adversely affected. But it would be a good thing in other areas where there isn't such good NHS provision. In general I think that if there is good NHS provision in an area, it should be preserved, rather than replacing it with private facilities.

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