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Ophthalmology

Question for Department of Health

UIN 41184, tabled on 24 June 2016

To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what assessment his Department has made of the effect of hospital-initiated postponement or cancellation of ophthalmology follow-up appointments on patients' sight.

Answered on

30 June 2016

All follow-up appointments should take place when clinically appropriate. It is for clinicians to make decisions on when they see patients, in line with their clinical priority, and patients should not experience undue delay at any stage of their referral, diagnosis or treatment. The appropriate interval for follow up appointments will vary between different services or specialties, and between individual patients, depending on the severity of their condition.

To ensure that patients are seen at the appropriate time, NHS England’s guidance, “Recording and reporting referral to treatment waiting times for consultant-led elective care” is clear that when patients on planned lists are clinically ready for their care to commence and reach the date for their planned appointment, they should either receive that appointment or be transferred to an active waiting list. At that point, a waiting time clock will be started and their wait reported in the relevant statistical return.

Hospital episode statistics contain details of all outpatient appointments at National Health Service hospitals in England and commissioned by the NHS from independent sector organisations in England. The recording of a primary diagnosis and postponed or cancelled appointments is not mandatory within the outpatient commissioning data set and there are no plans to make it so.

Data is not, therefore, available on the number of cancelled or postponed follow up appointments for patients with age-related macular degeneration, central retinal vein occlusion and diabetic macular oedema.

No assessment has been made of the effect of hospital-initiated postponement or cancellation of ophthalmology follow-up appointments on patients' sight. However, officials have met with the Clinical Council for Eye Health Commissioning and are considering their concerns.

Answered by

Department of Health and Social Care