The demand for eye care services is predominantly growing due to an ageing population. Hospitals are struggling to meet this increased demand, which is compounded by recruitment challenges.
While the challenges are the same across the UK, in Wales we want to transform the way services are accessed and delivered by utilising the skills of primary care optometrists. The upskilling of optometrists has evolved over time in Wales.
We recognised the increasing gap between the demand for, and capacity to provide specialist hospital eye care services, and decided to utilise our already skilled optometric workforce to support colleagues in secondary care.
Eye care initiatives launched in 2002 brought together a Primary Eye Care Acute Referral Scheme and an enhanced examination for groups at risk of developing eye disease. This scheme developed to become the first point of contact for acute eye conditions with optometrists managing a range of non-sight-threatening conditions, immediately relieving pressure on GP practices.