A series of eye care ‘mega-clinics’ are being held at Counties Manukau Health in southern Auckland to ensure high risk patients get access to appointments.
The clinics are being run by the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists (RANZCO) in conjunction with CM Health’s Ophthalmology Department at Manukau SuperClinic and aim to address a backlog that is part of a national problem.
In 2016 RANZCO raised concerns that some people were at risk of suffering irreversible blindness because they were not able to get timely follow-up eye care appointments. Since then, RANZCO has worked with the Government, through an Expert Advisory Group of ophthalmologists, optometrists, ophthalmic nurses, orthoptists, DHB managers and consumer representatives, to advise on how to address the problem and to assess progress by District Health Boards (DHBs).
The Ministry of Health also set up a NZ$2 million fund to help DHBs reduce their waiting list backlog. While there has been significant progress in many DHBs, with additional funds used for locum deployment and service improvements, a number of DHBs are still working to achieve their targets and clear the backlog.
In 2016 RANZCO raised concerns that some people were at risk of suffering irreversible blindness
CM Health has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with RANZCO to continue service improvements in its provision of eye healthcare, including clearing backlogs, and has accepted the help of RANZCO ophthalmologists to achieve this.
“It is great that Counties Manukau DHB has taken us up on that offer – it shows how committed they are to ensuring that their patients get access to the specialist care they need,” said Dr. Brian Kent-Smith, RANZCO New Zealand Branch Chair.
Under the MoU, CM Health has also committed to a number of system improvements, which include implementation of the new RANZCO NZ Branch Age-related Macular Degeneration Guidelines, drawing upon the best available clinical evidence to establish nationally accepted, standardised referral and treatment protocols.
CM Health has also committed to the implementation of an acuity index, for prioritising follow-up appointments, and continued support and involvement in the Auckland Regional Ophthalmology Plan, which is a review to rationalise ophthalmology services across the three Auckland DHBs.
The first of the mega clinics was held on Sunday 13 May with three more clinics scheduled to take place on 26 May, 9 June and 23 June.