New RCOphth Workforce Census illustrates the severe shortage of eye doctors in the UK

7 February 2019
Source: The Royal College of Ophthalmologists

A new 2018 census by The Royal College of Ophthalmologists (RCOphth) identifies gaps in Royal college of Ophthalmologists Logorecruitment of ophthalmologists and workforce planning amid a predicted 40% increase in demand over the next 20 years.

• Over the next two years an extra 230 consultant and 204 Staff and Associate Specialist (SAS) posts are required
• 67% of hospital eye units are using locum doctors to fill consultant posts, an increase of 52% since 2016
• 85% of units are undertaking waiting list initiatives to attempt to manage demand
• Around a quarter of the current workforce is nearing retirement

There is a severe shortage of ophthalmologists and clinic space to cope with the continuing increase in demand, caused by an ageing population and welcomed new treatments for previously untreatable conditions. Improved efficiency and the extension of roles for non-medical and community staff are not sufficient to meet the growing patient numbers affected by long term eye disease.

Jane Harcourt, Chair of the RCOphth Workforce Committee said “There is a widespread misconception that ophthalmology is a small specialty delivering mainly elective minor procedures and the risk of harm is low. This is not the case. Ophthalmology is a major service, dealing with nine million outpatient appointments every year and delivering 6% of all surgery in the NHS. The census highlights the continuing serious shortage of ophthalmologists and a widespread use of locums.”

Full story available on the RCOphth website

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