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Optical service could relieve A&E pressure

Optical service could relieve A&E pressure

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Pressures on A&Es could be relieved by making more use of high-street optical practices claims Local Optical Committee Support Unit.(LOCSU)

The eye health organisation estimates that 270,000 people attend A&E each year due to eye-related conditions and urge commissioners to invest in local optical practices to reduce pressure on the emergency medicine sector in line with NHS England’s Five Year Forward View.

To date only 58 CCGs have a minor eye conditions service which covers 14 million people. As a result 39 million people are elsewhere at A&E, GP surgeries and other secondary care services.

Responding to the latest figures revealing that A&E waiting times are the worst for a decade, LOCSU Managing Director, Katrina Venerus said: “With more than a quarter of a million A&E visits and up to 4.5 million GP appointments attributed to eye problems, it makes good sense to free up unnecessary time taken up in hospital casualty and in GP surgeries by using the skills and availability of optometrists in high street practices to quickly treat patients at convenient locations.

“Enabling patients to visit local high street optical practices for the treatment of minor conditions is convenient, often cheaper and takes the pressure off secondary care, allowing the NHS to concentrate on real emergencies.”

Venerus believes that optical practices, pharmacies and dental surgeries along with GP practices can become vital treatment centres at the forefront of a new, out-of-hospital health care.

“Optical practices, along with pharmacies and dentists have the clinical skills, the equipment, the high-street presence and most importantly the willingness to provide high-quality care in the local community where patients want it delivered as extra treatment and advice settings in addition to the traditional GP surgery,” she added.

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