For many years Eye Casualty was seen as the Cinderella of ophthalmology, in many cases staffed by the more junior Dr’s often side-lined away from the main clinics. The British Emergency Eyecare Society (BEECS) sought to change that and within ophthalmology it is now give the proper place under consultant direction. BEECS holds an annual meeting where many speakers from a wide range of disciplines included ophthalmology, optometry, orthoptics and nursing discuss a mixture of presentations about individual cases, challenging diagnoses and research audit.
As part of her final year dissertation our MSci placement optometrist Hafsa Amjad collated the BBR response to the pandemic as the Wye Valley NHS Trust hospital redeployed its medical teams. Although Ophthalmic casualty at the Victoria Eye Unit never closed a team of local community optometrists (across several practices) were engaged to support their medical colleagues. This was facilitated by Optometry becoming a designated 111 destination and by enabling NHS medicines prescribing to become a reality via provision of FP10 prescribing pads.
BBR Chairman Nick Rumney (the first Hereford optometrist to become a qualified independent prescriber in 2012) presented audit data on 532 patients seen at BBR Optometry, between March and December 2020 under pandemic conditions ranging from red to amber phase, under social distancing and with PPE. All examinations were funded by the NHS and free of charge to patients with a Hereford GP. All patients received an initial Telemed assessment by an optometrist who decided if a face to face examination was needed. Those seen in the practice were then managed or referred as appropriate. In fact only 1 in 10 needed onward referral to medicine. This approach has been so successful it continues under the CUES (Covid Urgent Eyecare Scheme) moniker ever since.
The youtube link https://youtu.be/BW7L5o30VvQ takes you to an audio file presentation where Nick discusses the establishment and outcomes. At the recent BEECS annual meeting, on 1st October, this presentation won the prize for the best in the research audit category. BBR Optometry would like to acknowledge the support of the Hereford And Worcester Clinical Commissioning Group, the trust of Wye Valley NHS Victoria Eye Unit and the optometrists who delivered this service in the practice; Laura Williams, Alison Edwards, Jemima Morgan, Nick Rumney and the author Hafsa Amjad.