Eye patients to be seen in A and E at Princess Alexandra Hospital

Communities / Mon 10th Nov 2014 at 12:01pm

FROM TODAY (Monday 10 November), eye emergency patients who attend Princess Alexandra Hospital’s Eye Unit will be seen in A&E. 

Those who require urgent treatment from a doctor will be referred back to the Eye Unit’s emergency clinic. 

The remainder will be directed elsewhere to the most appropriate source of help, for example their GP or local pharmacist.

All non-emergency patients who have an appointment will be seen in the usual way in the hospital’s Eye Unit.

Consultant Ophthalmologist, Priya Prakash, said:  “By identifying those patients who are genuine emergencies – which is about half of those we see – we can cut waiting times for all our patients and ensure that precious resources are not wasted.”

At the moment, there are two ophthalmology doctors assigned to walk-in patients who believe their cases are urgent.  The new system will free up one of those doctors to treat an additional 50 patients a week.

Emergency appointments at the Eye Unit – currently only available in the morning and on Monday and Wednesday afternoons – will be available from 9am to 5pm every day of the week apart from Tuesday afternoon.

The Eye Unit has recently undergone a £1m upgrade. A high-tech camera identical to the one operating on the international space station is now in use for patients with eye conditions, including age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

The Heidelberg FFA camera – which cost £123,000 and replaces a 23-year-old camera – is capable of taking the most-detailed-possible picture of every part of the eye in a fraction of a second, allowing PAH consultants to see more, and so make a much faster and more accurate diagnosis of a range of eye conditions.

The Trust has also purchased a £96,000 Heidelberg OCT Camera. These two new Heidelberg machines mark a new era for the Trust’s Ophthalmology service and ensure that PAHT has the best available equipment when making treatment decisions for patients.

The new cameras will also ensure that patients, who previously had to travel to Moorfields Hospital in London, can now undergo their tests at PAH.

The upgrade to the Ophthalmology Department and its infrastructure has also included the recruitment this summer of additional specialist clinical staff, with expertise across all areas.

The extra staff will ensure the Ophthalmology Department is able to offer a much greater number of appointments to patients helping to dramatically reduce waiting times and ensure that the Trust get the most out of its million pound upgrade.

Miss Prakash said:  “The investment that has gone into the Ophthalmology service in the last 12 months has allowed us to offer our patients access to some of the best equipment available in the NHS.

“Following reductions in services elsewhere, this is enabling us to attract patients from all over the south east, increasing our income and allowing us to reinvest this in even better equipment and research.

“Patients are now regularly sent to us from some of the large London hospitals who recognize our facilities and ability to deliver top class care and facilities to our patients. I couldn’t be prouder of our Ophthalmology team”.

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