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Funding boost for research collaboration studying provision of eye care in the community

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A new project set up to study the best way to care for patients with long-standing eye conditions in the community has secured a major research grant.

Dr Pippa Anderson and Dr Mari Jones, of Swansea University’s Centre for Health Economics (SCHE), are part of a multidisciplinary team which has just been awarded a substantial Research for Patient and Public Benefit (RfPPB) grant from Health and Care Research Wales (HCRW).

The cross-professional collaboration is investigating how chronic sight-threatening conditions could be managed and monitored in a community setting.

Dr Anderson, the SCHE’s head, said: “In recent years the workload on the hospital eye service in the UK has continued to expand beyond the capability of the available workforce. Since 2017 ophthalmology has had the highest number of outpatient episodes of any speciality in the NHS.

“As a result, a number of new approaches have developed across the UK. Here in Wales, we have primarily concentrated on upskilling primary care optometry.”

Optometrists are eyecare professionals who practise within the hospital environment, but more commonly work within the community providing eye examination services. Further training and qualification have allowed them to begin to provide services in the community that historically would have been provided in the hospital setting.

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However, Dr Anderson said that the services provided differ across the region and one reason for this variation is a lack of quality evidence to support the best approach to take.

This has led to the group – H2C Co-Lab Cymru (Hospital to Community Collaboration Cymru) – developing the project to better inform decisions taken at health board and Welsh government level.

The project is being led by Professor Barbara Ryan, optometrist in Aneurin Bevan University Health Board and the School of Optometry and Vision Science at Cardiff University, and includes representatives from primary and secondary eyecare.

In addition to Swansea’s contribution, academic support is also being provided by Cardiff University and the University of South Wales. Further collaboration comes from patient partners including Sight Cymru, the Macular Society, International Glaucoma Association, and the Wales Council for the Blind.

Dr Anderson added: “Our aim is to evaluate the value of community optometrists managing the common sight-threatening eye conditions of age-related macular degeneration and glaucoma in the community.

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“Value in this context will not only be economic impact but also a patient-centred focus coupled with the right management in the right place at the right time.”

(Lead image: Swansea University)


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Carmarthenshire

Proposed locations for controversial new hospital site to be reviewed

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Hywel Dda University Health Board will undertake a review of potential sites as part of the ongoing process to identify a suitable location for a new hospital.

Eleven sites will be assessed on Friday 22 October, including those identified by members of the public during the six-week engagement exercise, which took place earlier this year.

This stage of the process is intended to lead to the creation of a shortlist of sites. This will be subject to further detailed appraisal with significant public and wider stakeholder involvement. The final decision about the chosen site will be made by the health board, in agreement with Welsh Government.

Steve Moore, Chief Executive of Hywel Dda UHB, said: “The building of a new hospital is a major long-term project, which is why we place great emphasis on being open and transparent about the process involved.

“The process we are following includes developing a programme business case to support our strategy for community and hospital-based health and care. As part of the process to apply for funding from the Welsh Government, we will submit the programme business case, and then individual outline business cases, then the final business cases for the new infrastructure we will need. The health board will therefore engage with the public on a regular basis between now and the submission of the final business cases to ensure your views are fully considered.

“I understand and recognise there are passionate feelings about a new hospital, but we strongly believe a new facility is essential for urgent and planned care in the south of the Hywel Dda area. It will provide trauma care and be the main emergency department for the south of our area.

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“I can also reassure the public that we have no plans or intention to close either Glangwili or Withybush hospitals. We will engage further on how these hospitals could work alongside the proposed new hospital.”

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Coronavirus

Calls intensify for First Minister to announce Wales specific Covid-19 enquiry

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Welsh Conservatives have repeated the call for a Wales-specific Covid-19 inquiry.

On behalf of the Senedd Conservatives, Paul Davies MS challenged the First Minister over his refusal to hold a Welsh specific inquiry and denying victims’ families the answers they deserve.

The questioning from the Welsh Conservatives follows a tweet from Mark Drakeford which provoked an emotive response from the Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice-Cymru group.

Following a summit yesterday between the British Prime Minister and leaders of the devolved administrations, Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford tweeted:

Later, the Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice-Cymru tweeted:

Taking up the issue on behalf of the families in the Senedd, Mr Davies said: “There is no reason why the Welsh Government can’t take part in a UK-wide inquiry and a Welsh inquiry. An open and transparent Government must be accountable to the people it serves, and the people of Wales deserve answers.

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 “An open and transparent Government must be accountable to the people it serves, and the people of Wales deserve answers. ‘Responsible, but not held responsible’ seems to be the mantra of this Welsh Labour Government. Now, organisations like the bereaved families group, Medics 4 Mask Up Wales and the British Lung Foundation have all joined calls for a Welsh inquiry.

 “It’s time for your government to do the right thing and commit to that inquiry. A Welsh inquiry is a necessary part in helping the country understand how decisions were made and whether lessons have indeed been learnt.”

Speaking outside the chamber, Welsh Conservative Shadow Minister for Economy, Paul Davies MS said:“Welsh Conservatives have always said a Wales-specific inquiry, alongside a UK investigation, is essential in delivering justice for those affected by coronavirus and lockdowns.

“Throughout the pandemic we were told that different decisions would be taken in Wales to meet our specific circumstances, and now we need a specific public inquiry to scrutinise these decisions.

“Sadly, Wales has the highest Covid death rate in the UK and over 8,000 people have tragically died during the pandemic, a quarter of whom acquired the infection in hospital.

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“The grieving families deserve answers, and full, independent scrutiny of the decisions taken by Labour ministers and Wales should get the transparency, accountability, and scrutiny that every democracy needs to thrive.

“Regrettably, responsible but not held responsible seems to be the mantra of this Labour administration.”

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Carmarthenshire

Health board and councils urge families to look after recovering patients to free up hospital beds

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photo of woman lying in hospital bed

A joint statement from Hywel Dda Health Board, Welsh Ambulance Trust and Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion Councils is calling on families of recovering hospital patients to look after their loved ones at home in order to free up hospital beds.

The statement says that the demand on health and social care services is leading to significant delays including bed shortages and long ambulance waits at A&E departments.

The statement says: “There is currently an unprecedented demand on health and social care services across Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire, which is leading to significant delays in care provision. Put simply, the difficulty in discharging medically-fit patients from hospital – many of whom have complex personal circumstances and needs – is leading to significant bed shortages, and consequently, lengthy ambulance waits at the ‘front door’ of A&E departments, which mean that paramedics are unable to respond to other 999 calls in the community.

“Social care and Health teams are doing everything possible to support people who are well enough to leave hospital but need ongoing care. Priority is being given to the most vulnerable, and alternative health and care packages are being offered as a short-term measure. More carers and health staff are also being recruited to support people in need.

They added: “If you have a relative or loved one in hospital who is well enough to go home, but is waiting to be discharged with homecare and community health support, you may be able to help them to get home more quickly if you and your family are in a position to support them at home. If your relative is waiting for a formal package of care, you may be able to offer support and care on a short term, temporary arrangement or you might want to consider whether your loved one could be supported in a temporary residential or nursing care setting. If you feel that this is an option that you could consider, please speak to the ward manager or your social worker to explore further.

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“Spending as little time in hospital is better for patients and means that NHS beds can be freed up for others with urgent care needs. Supporting older patients to get home from hospital efficiently is an important part of their recovery and it also protects them from negative consequences of hospital admission, such as hospital acquired infection, falls and a loss of independence.”

The move comes despite an additional £551m in extra funding being promised by Welsh Government in August.

The military also stepped in to help the Welsh Ambulance Service this week.

Lead image: Andrea Piacquadio / Pexels.com)

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