Latest HSIB report highlights ‘devastating’ impact of delays and pressure on national glaucoma services

10 January 2020

Delays to follow-up appointments for glaucoma patients leaves them at risk of sight loss, warns our new report.

The report highlights the case of a 34-year old woman who lost her sight as a result of 13 months of delays to follow-up appointments.

National issue

Lack of timely follow-up for glaucoma patients is a recognised national issue across the NHS. Research suggests that around 22 patients a month will suffer severe or permanent sight loss as a result of the delays. In HSIB’s reference case, the patient saw seven different ophthalmologists and the time between her initial referral to hospital eye services (HES) and laser eye surgery was 11 months. By this time her sight had deteriorated so badly, she was registered as severely sight impaired.

Inadequate capacity

The investigation identified that there is inadequate HES capacity to meet demand for glaucoma services, and that better, smarter ways of working should be implemented to maximise the current capacity. The report highlights that there are innovative measures implemented by some trusts that have reduced the risk, but this good practice is yet to be implemented more widely.

As a result of the national investigation, we have made several safety recommendations focused on the management and prioritisation of appointments. This is to ensure that those most at risk of sight loss aren’t delayed and that the scale of the problem is continually highlighted and monitored at a national level.

Read the full report on the HSIB website

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