New Eye Care Support Pathway wins cross-sector backing

New Eye Care Support Pathway wins cross-sector backing for transforming the way people with eye care needs and sight loss are helped emotionally and practically.

Senior leaders from the NHS, social care and the Third Sector will be gathering in London today (November 16) to explore new ways to ensure people with eye care needs and sight loss receive vital information, advice, practical and emotional support at every stage of their eye care journey.

The Collaborate for Good event, organised by The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), brings together leading organisations from across the eye care and sight loss sector to unveil a UK wide Eye Care Support Pathway. The Pathway is a new framework to ensure patients have timely access to information, advice and support throughout their eye care journey.

The over-arching ambition for the Eye Care Support Pathway is that from the moment someone realises that “something isn’t quite right” with their sight, through to diagnosis and being able to live confidently – and independently – with their condition, they have access to the information, and support they need. Patients should be able to actively participate and take control of their eye care journey.

With the level of demand placed on NHS practitioners, eye care departments, and with the need for each individual appointment never greater than it is today there is a real need for change. There were more than 8 million outpatient eye care appointments in the UK in 2021/22, the highest footfall for any speciality and RNIB’s research has found people often find it difficult to access eye health and sight loss information, services and support.

The event provides a great example of the sector collaborating with the NHS, social care, people with lived experience and the Third Sector. More than 20 organisations have already endorsed the Eye Care Support Pathway.2 Two years of work have led up to the publication of the Pathway -informed by detailed research, the insight of more than 500 people with lived experience and more than 30 bodies who represent professionals and patients across the sector.

“Visionary members continually tell us that blind and partially sight people experience different levels of support across the UK. The Visionary network is committed to creating a world where people receive the right support, in the right place, at the right time. That is why Visionary, and our members are working with partners to deliver and embed the Eye Care Support Pathway our local communities.”

Visionary’s CEO, Fiona Sandford,

“We know that the experience of people with eye care needs and sight loss varies greatly across the UK. It’s not acceptable that anyone, regardless of their condition or where they live, does not get the right help and support at the right time. “It’s encouraging to see so many partners are joining us for the event to work towards establishing, implementing, and delivering the Eye Care Support Pathway. Today is an important milestone, but only the beginning of the work we need to achieve together, bringing everyone together and moving forward to better support people across their eye care journey.”

RNIB’s Chief Executive Officer Matt Stringer

“Success in transforming the way eye care services are provided to meet the increasing demand on the NHS will require the whole sector to transform its approach to improving patient care. The Eye Care Support pathway puts the person at the centre of their eye care and sight loss journey. When the Eye Care Support Pathway is implemented, we must seize the opportunity to truly transform services, empower patients and improve outcomes. “I’m grateful to our VI sector charity partners for collaborating in developing and publishing the Eye Care Support Pathway and in bringing people together to embed the framework into services and ensure that every person gets the right support at every stage.”

Louisa Wickham, National Clinical Director for Eye care for NHS England, who recently joined Visionary at the Annual Conference

The event takes place in Central London today (Thursday, November 16) with an invited audience. The next steps will see the VI Charity Sector Partnership working with NHS and social care bodies and those with lived experience to implement the Eye Care Support Pathway and the work will continue until everyone who has a sight loss diagnosis gets the support which is person-centred and timely from the outset and throughout their eye care journey.

The Eye Care Support Pathway is shown below and for more information the full report can be accessed here.

The text in graphic says: Eye care support pathway Supporting you at every stage of your journey Underneath a graphic shows the four stages of an individual’s journey with the following text: 1. Having my initial appointment 2. Waiting well 3. Having my diagnosis confirmed 4. Waiting well 5. Support after my diagnosis 6. Waiting well 7. Living well with my condition Underneath this graphic it outlines what an individual can expect on their journey. Understand my eye care journey Understand my diagnosis Access emotional and practical support

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