The review was undertaken following concerns about the potential for patients to come to harm whilst awaiting treatment.  Due to the risks associated with any delay in treatment for patients with ‘wet’ Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD), it was decided that the review would focus on this condition and the pathway for treatment. 

Overall, we found there to be insufficient capacity in hospitals to meet demands on services.  The fragility of ‘wet’ AMD services is a major risk and further development of services is required to fully utilise all available resources, including non medical staff, to strengthen the sustainability of eye care services. 

While there are some initiatives across Wales relating to the delivery of ‘wet’ AMD services, including the development of community-based services designed to increase capacity, our review highlighted that progress with these new initiatives has varied with more work to be done. 

Our review highlighted that there has been a lack of leadership and focussed planning by health boards in developing ophthalmic services.  Most services have insufficient core capacity to meet demand and there is now a significant deficit in the capacity to deliver safe and timely care.  Progress has been made in some areas to strengthen service capacity and improve efficiency, but more work is required. Improvements must be made to information management systems within health boards in order for services to be planned, delivered and managed in an effective way

We have made 22 recommendations for Health Boards and policy makers to consider as result of these findings.  

Chief Executive, Dr Kate Chamberlain said:

Our review has found insufficient capacity in ophthalmology services across Wales to treat some patients in a timely way. Although there has been some innovation aimed at increasing capacity, progress has been inconsistent across Wales. We found that more work needs to be done in order to utilise available resources so that sustainable eye services can be developed. There is a need for renewed efforts to develop sustainable patient centred eye care services so as to minimise the risk of harm to patients.

RNIB Cymru has welcomed the publication today of the Health Inspectorate Wales (HIW) review of Ophthalmology Services in Wales.

Ceri Jackson, Director of RNIB Cymru said:

Whilst highlighting some examples of good practice and progress to improve services, the review also evidences the need for continued work and development in several areas, in particular the need to ensure that capacity within the services is able to meet the growing demand.

We acknowledge and praise the commitment and hard work of multidisciplinary teams across Wales, but the fact remains that people are still losing their sight due to delayed appointments. It is critical that we address the capacity within hospital eye services to meet current and growing demand.

The wait for these issues to be resolved means that people are losing their sight unnecessarily, and that is not acceptable.

Last updated: 7 Feb 2017