An innovative new service offering telephone and video consultations is now providing urgent eye care for people across Sefton.
The urgent eyecare service (CUES) has been put in place to ensure borough residents have quick and easy access to optical care during the pandemic through the use of online and remote technology.
To coincide with the launch of the service, people across Sefton are being urged not to ignore eye problems, with the number of patients across the area seeking care for urgent eye conditions having dropped during the coronavirus pandemic.
Typical symptoms that the service will treat include a red or painful eye, foreign body in the eye, sudden change in vision, or flashes and floaters, which might suggest retinal detachment.
This service is commissioned by NHS South Sefton and NHS Southport and Formby CCG and is provided by local opticians via the optometry federation, Primary Eyecare Services Ltd (PES) with the support of the Local Optical Committee.
Accessing help early via the CUES service will increase the likelihood of a positive outcome for patients.
Access to the service is restricted to telephone booking only to:
· Identify people with COVID-19 symptoms, at risk /self-isolating people to signpost to appropriate services
· Offer telephone/ video consultation and self-care advice or provide signed orders remotely, where appropriate
· Offer face-to-face appointments with optometrist following telephone/video consultations for those who are presenting with urgent and higher risk symptoms (observing PPE guidance and social distancing advice)
· Signpost to emergency services as appropriate.
Patients should be advised to contact a participating optician directly, participating practices can be found at http://primaryeyecare.co.uk
To access the service, patients simply call an optician from the list.
They will then have an initial assessment over the phone or online to determine if they need a face to face appointment.
Dr Craig Gillespie, chair of NHS South Sefton CCG, said: “The main aim of this service is to ensure people can access urgent eye care, using the established and expert workforce in optical practices.
“This is essential to reduce demand on primary care and hospital eye services during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.”
Dr Rob Caudwell, chair of NHS Southport and Formby CCG, added: “The service will use technology to provide remote consultations to patients meaning more patients will be able to access services, either at or close to home, reducing the need for travel and hospital visits.”
Dharmesh Patel, chief executive officer of Primary Eyecare Services, said: “The service provides the quickest access to the right care for patients. This is crucial as delays to treatment can have a serious impact on long-term eye health, and in some cases even sight loss.”