A partnership between Care UK and Manchester Consultants Eye Partnership (MCEP) has revolutionised the eye care of people living in Greater Manchester. Waiting times at the ophthalmology service are a fraction of those at other services in the area, meaning NHS patients can receive cataract surgery on both eyes within four weeks of being referred by their optician – compared to an eye-watering 15 weeks elsewhere.
Rochdale NHS Ophthalmology Clinical Assessment and Treatment Service (CATS) was one of the first in the UK to offer cataract surgery in a non-hospital, community based setting. Its highly focused team has treated over 9,000 NHS patients since it received Any Qualified Provider (AQP) status to provide cataract surgery, laser treatment and ocular plastic surgery at Croft Shifa Health Centre a year ago.
Care UK and MCEP joined forces to combine the nursing and management experience of a national independent healthcare provider with the commitment and expertise of experienced local consultant ophthalmologists.
Ericka Ashworth, head of clinical services at Rochdale NHS Ophthalmology CATS, said: “Since achieving AQP accreditation for eye surgery this clinic has gone from strength-to-strength and we work hard to make sure patients have access to a service which fits in with their busy lives.
“Our short waiting times mean patients can be booked in for a consultation within days, rather than weeks, of us receiving a referral. Appointments can be made outside of normal working hours, including on Saturday mornings. This has proven to be very popular with people who find it difficult to take time off work.
“Each month there are 25 cataract surgery sessions, four ocular plastic surgeries as well as general ophthalmology, glaucoma and retinal sessions. Our team is committed to putting patients first and we regularly receive thank you letters from people saying how pleased they are with the speed and quality of treatment.”
Karen Goodall, clinical director at MCEP and a consultant ophthalmologist at Rochdale NHS Ophthalmology CATS, said: “In partnership with Care UK, we have built a brilliant team which provides high quality care to every patient. I am very proud of the service and of our achievements during the past 12 months.”
Care UK has operated Rochdale NHS Ophthalmology CATS since 2008. The service has two clinics – Croft Shifa Health Centre in Rochdale and The Phoenix Centre in Heywood. Together they offer fast, convenient access to ophthalmological treatment and have helped over 50,000 patients.