Seeing a new way to providing the very best services

Dr Mike Bewick, Deputy Medical Director for NHS England, outlines the aims of the Eye Care Call To Action:

Early access to preventative eye care and accurate early diagnosis is vitally important to patients.

While NHS England has a limited role in the direct commissioning of eye health services, it is one of the common objectives shared by ourselves, CCGs, the Local Eye Health Networks and other partners, such as the Royal College of General Practitioners.

The prevalence of long term illnesses is increasing and a number of these conditions, such as diabetes, have known risks for eye health. This demand will put pressure on the system and we are keen to pre-empt that in this Call to Action.

It is estimated that screening could save more than 400 people’s sight in England.

Key to the understanding of eye care services is that:

  • Eye health problems are not distributed evenly among the general population. Certain groups are more likely to have sight problems than others, such as people with learning disabilities or dementia, or have a higher prevalence of some eye diseases, such as some black and minority ethnic groups.
  • Many people with sight problems will have multi-morbidities and will have particular needs around issues such as independent living, managing their own health, social support, education and employment.
  • Some eye diseases such as glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy and macular degeneration might require life-long monitoring, support and treatment.
  • There are close links between eye disease and avoidable health problems, such as falls – particularly amongst the elderly.
  • Hospital attendances for ophthalmology services account for the second highest outpatient attendance for any specialty.
  • Late or inaccurate diagnoses of eye health problems will generally increase pressures elsewhere in the health and social care system.

This builds on the successes of previous Calls to Action that have stimulated debate, and will explore how primary care services can promote prevention and early detection and spread good practice.

NHS England’s ambition is to build a collaborative approach with CCGs to the commissioning of primary care services.

For more information see ‘Improving eye health and reducing sight loss – A ‘Call to Action’



Dr Mike Bewick is Deputy Medical Director at NHS England.