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Elimination of paediatric waiting list in the west

By Priscilla Lynch - 06th Jun 2024

Irish College of Ophthalmologists, Annual Conference, Knockranny House Hotel, Westport, Co Mayo, 15-17 May 2024.

The Irish College of Ophthalmologists 2024 Annual Conference heard how an extensive paediatric ophthalmology community waiting list, of more than 4,000 patients, was eliminated over an eight-month period in the west.

Dr Geraldine Comer, Consultant Medical Ophthalmologist, CHO2/Community Healthcare West, presented data showing how the roll-out of an integrated eye care team and integrated care pathway with the tertiary referral centre in Galway saw the elimination of a very substantial four-year community children’s eye waiting list.

Between 2022 and 2024, there was a notable reduction in the paediatric waiting lists due to the new resources, she told the conference. In 2024, there were 789 new referrals scheduled for an appointment within four weeks of receipt of referral compared with 3,574 patients in 2022 waiting 18 months for a community eye exam unless deemed extremely urgent.

In early 2024, there were 4,299 review paediatric patients being actively treated by the community eye care team, including waiting lists from University Hospital Galway, as part of the integrated paediatric pathway with up-to-date appointments – in contrast, 3,026 review children waited 18 months in 2022.

In addition, in excess of 70 per cent of children previously seen at the Galway University Hospitals (GUH) eye clinic have now been discharged to the community with direct referrals now made from GUH paediatrics to the community eye care team rather than the hospital, Dr Comer reported.

Children with additional needs are also now being seen in the community instead of GUH.

The community eye clinic in Galway is now the first port of call for all children in the region requiring an eye appointment apart from emergencies and complex cases, Dr Comer explained. Waiting lists for paediatric eye appointments in the region have been reduced from 18-to-24 months to four weeks currently, with new and review patient appointments all up-to-date.

“The utilisation of ancillary clinical eye staff, in particular optometrists, development and implementation of defined care pathways, utilisation and development of existing infrastructure, and engaging with various stakeholders has been essential to the facilitation of modernised clinical care pathways, all achieved in an eight-month period,” Dr Comer told the meeting, adding that her team hoped to increase its throughput even further with the appointment of more staff.

There was much praise for the results of the team from delegates at the conference.

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