The Ophthalmology Workforce Census has highlighted a severe shortage of ophthalmologists in the UK.

The 2018 census by the Royal College of Ophthalmologists (RCOphth) reported that over the next two years an extra 230 consultants and 204 staff and associate specialist roles will be required. It also found that 67% of hospital eye units are using locum doctors to fill consultant posts, which is an increase of 52% since 2016 and 85% of eye units have started waiting list initiatives to cope with the high demand.

Jane Harcourt, chair of the RCOphth Workforce Committee, said: ‘There is a widespread misconception that ophthalmology is a small speciality 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.’