A new approach to treating people with eye conditions aims to expand services at Noble’s Hospital.
An initiative to maximise the number of people with retinal and macular conditions who are treated on-Island will reduce the need for Manx patients to travel to the UK for appointments.
The Department is seeking to commission a service capable of seeing all patients with age-related macular degeneration (ARMD) and in addition, other conditions which are not currently dealt with at Noble’s.
A procurement exercise to find a provider has today been launched by the Department, with the aim of having the new service in place by the autumn.
At present, the majority of ARMD patients are seen at a fortnightly ‘satellite’ clinic provided at Noble’s by a consultant from Aintree Hospital in Liverpool. The clinician has been supported by an optometrist, medical photographer, nurses and specialist equipment provided by Noble’s.
The satellite service has been successfully remodelled over the past few months to increase capacity. However, around 15% of ARMD patients, and all patients with other macular problems, are still required to travel to Liverpool for their treatment. The new model aims to offer all but the most specialised care locally.
A review of current arrangements has concluded the Island should establish an extended local service which offers patients access to more treatments, more efficiently, closer to home.
The aim aligns with the Department’s proposed Eye Care Strategy, which is being progressed following a public consultation held in October 2017.
Health and Social care Minister David Ashford MHK said:
‘By any measure the local service for people with age related macular degeneration has been a success. Until January 2015, all Manx patients with the condition had to travel to Liverpool for treatment.
‘The Noble’s-based partnership with Aintree has been a great benefit for macular patients but hasn’t fully addressed our needs. We have made changes to increase the numbers being seen at the fortnightly clinic. But there are still more people than we would like travelling to Liverpool.’
‘Many of those with ARMD are elderly and some have other health problems – for these patients, the journey across was a major ordeal. It’s time for a re think, especially in the light of a growing elderly population. By seeking a new provider, we are taking an imaginative step towards enhancing treatment for patients with eye conditions on-Island.’
Expressions of interest from potential providers of the service are invited, ahead of a formal Invitation to Tender process. It’s hoped the provider will be appointed by early July, to ensure a smooth transition before the new service becomes operational at the beginning of October.