Moorfields staff shortlisted for two Association of Optometrists awards

The Cayton Street urgent care and optometrist-led glaucoma team at Moorfields Eye Hospital has been shortlisted for the ‘Hospital Optometry Team of the Year’ award, and Moorfields optometrist Zachary Cairns is a finalist for ‘Newly Qualified Optometrist of the Year’ at the Association of Optometrists awards.

The Association of Optometrists awards are an annual celebration of excellence in optometry, recognising outstanding talent, innovation and exceptional contributions made by individuals and teams across the UK.

The ‘Hospital Optometry Team of the Year’ award is given in recognition of a team who has created a new system, clinic or branched into an area of ophthalmology, pioneering the way for future hospital optometrists. Our Urgent Care and Optometrist-led Glaucoma team were shortlisted for this award in recognition of the expansion of the service they provide, improvements in the patient experience and increased capacity, whilst conducting clinics in a safe, efficient manner and maintaining clinical standards.

Optometrist-led glaucoma clinics

Independently managed by optometrists, adhering to a Moorfields-approved protocol, the optometrist-led glaucoma clinics have expanded from one session a week to eight sessions a week. Now 32 optometrists see up to 200 patients each week, supervised by eight lead optometrists with the higher qualifications required to manage patients autonomously. A new streamlined model of care, the optometrist-led clinic sees early-to-moderate cases of glaucoma, freeing up much needed capacity in over-burdened consultant-led clinics, which can now focus on managing the more advanced and complex diseases. Patients attending the optometrist-led glaucoma clinics have all their preliminary tests performed in one sitting in a customised diagnostic room, thereby reducing their overall journey time. Three of the eight clinics are optometrist-led glaucoma education clinics, allowing other optometrists to complete the practical clinical placement and observer components of their extended role training for higher qualifications in glaucoma.

Principal optometrist of the glaucoma education clinics, Emma Laber said: “It has been a privilege to work as part of the team developing and implementing these clinics. As the glaucoma service becomes increasingly busy, optometrists are now able to play a significant role by managing patients autonomously. By helping to develop the skills of other optometrists through the clinical placements in the glaucoma education clinic, we are also ensuring more optometrists have the necessary skills and qualifications to expand the service in the future.”

Urgent care

The Urgent Care clinics were set up to provide appropriate care for patients who have presented in A&E with non-sight-threatening conditions that required an urgent, non-emergency assessment instead. 20 optometrists work in the urgent care clinics alongside a medic, helping to divert 160 patients each week away from A&E, significantly relieving pressures on the A&E department. One of the aims of the clinic was to expand the role of optometrists, to open up the range of conditions that optometrists have experience of managing and treating. The majority of optometrists (78%) working in the clinics are qualified Independent Prescribers. Working elsewhere in clinics means that many of the urgent care optometrists are able to bring with them an additional skill set to perform further tasks such as scleral indentation, confocal microscopy and suture removal. In addition, optometrists can measure as required systemic observations such as blood pressure and blood sugar. Combined with the availability of visual field testing and OCT scanning these skills aid in the diagnosis of conditions and reduce the number of unnecessary referrals from the urgent care clinics on to other services.

Principal optometrist Nathanael Anguige said: “With ophthalmology now accounting for 8% of all NHS outpatient appointments, the urgent care service highlights how other staffing groups such as optometrists can be identified to help take on some of the outpatient workload. Overall, 90% of patients are seen and discharged from the urgent care service in under two hours. No patients so far have breached the 4-hour A&E national standard.”

Newly Qualified Optometrist of the Year

Moorfields’ success continues with optometrist Zachary Cairns being shortlisted for ‘Newly Qualified Optometrist of the Year’, an award which recognises outstanding optometrists early on in their career.

Zachary commented, “It’s exciting to be recognised for my work at this early stage in my career. This award further motivates me to strive for excellence in every aspect of my work.”

The winners of the awards will be announced in January 2020.

You can vote for Zachary Cairns and our urgent care and optometrist-led glaucoma team on the Association of Optometrists website.

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