There are still more than 500 islanders awaiting their first appointment in the Ophthalmology Department to assess potential cataracts and other eye conditions - despite a recent funding injection of more than a quarter-of-a-million to cut down waiting times.
Of the 547 islanders waiting for their first appointment, the majority (58%) having been waiting for over three months. Meanwhile, 399 people were waiting for their elective procedure at the end of January.
The Ophthalmology Department is one of six where the waiting lists for first appointments includes more than 500 patients.
However, along with oral surgery, it has the highest proportion of patients having waited for more than three months, 62.1% and 58% respectively.
Pictured: 399 people were waiting for their elective procedure at the end of January.
The figures were part of an update on waiting times for inpatient and outpatient treatments published by the Health Minister earlier this week following a question by Deputy Mike Higgins.
The Ophthalmology Department spent over £261,444 – inclusive of staff expenses - bringing in an ophthalmic team to the island in August 2021 to help cut down waiting times.
The team included 13 members of staff, including two ophthalmologists and eight nurses or Operating Department Practitioners, split into an outpatient team and a theatre one.
In addition to the on-island team, the insourcing company provided support remotely to assist with the co-ordination of the work.
The contract, which was funded through covid-19 ‘recovery investments’ to help clear the waiting list that had developed during the pandemic, was set at a maximum volume of 210 outpatients and 127 surgical procedures, plus a ‘second eye’ where applicable.
The teams were in the island for 12 days starting from 23 August 2021 and conducted follow-up clinics over the weekend of 11 September.
“The team was contracted to undertake a volume of activity, this was not set in terms of a number of days,” a spokesperson for the Government previously said.
“While there are no current commitments to bring the team back to treat additional patients, this is an operational matter that may be reviewed from time to time.”
Pictured: Additional staff was brought in last yea to help cut down waiting times.
In addition, last August, the Ophthalmology Department received funding to recruit more staff in response to "pressures" which had culminated in long waiting times for appointments and operations, including up to five months for cataract surgery.
Contacted by Express, a spokesperson for the Government said the Health Department’s ophthalmology services were “under pressure” due to a combination of “baseline demand” outstripping capacity and additional challenges caused by the pandemic, which led to surgeries stopping for a period of time.
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