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Top Marks for Ophthalmology Department Are In Eye of the Beholder

4 August

Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust’s Ophthalmology department has performed better in cataract surgery than any other Trust in Greater Manchester.

For the first time, the department’s excellent outcomes were added to the National Ophthalmology Database (NOD). It was established in 2010 by the Royal College of Ophthalmologists (RCOphth) to provide a powerful quality improvement tool to help draw the attention of Trusts to possible elements of cataract care which may require development and to benchmark standards of care.

Between 1 September 2015 and 31 August 2016, the completely independent national audit of cataract surgery looked at 120,722 operations undertaken by 55 English and one Welsh NHS cataract surgical centres - 47% of all eye units in the country. Cataracts surgery is one of the most frequently performed surgeries in the UK with 1,493 operations taking place during the time frame at WWL alone.

The audit looked at complications that arose during surgery, compared against the expected complications according to the patient type. The benchmark was set at a complication rate of 2% or less, with WWL’s Ophthalmology department achieving 1.4%, with just 16 centres performing better nationwide and none in Greater Manchester. The department accomplished a low complication rate for Posterior Capsule Rupture (PCR), achieving one of the lowest percentages for adjusted PCR rate at just 1.41%.

Simon Mars, Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon at WWL, said: “We are really pleased to be part of NOD. This is a great achievement for everyone in Ophthalmology and especially for our surgeons, as it is universally seen as a key measure of technical skill.

“To the patient coming for surgery it says this is a department that is signed up to rigorous external quality control, which shows we are doing really well. Quality matters in healthcare and reminds us that we deal with people and not just numbers.

“I feel very strongly that we deal with people and we are not here just to do an operation, but we are here to make people’s lives better. We are not good because we say we are good, we are good because we can prove it. This audit empowers that.

“Our role is to deal with 95% of ophthalmological problems and deal with those as well as or better than anywhere else. If you are coming to us you are never going to get a worse deal than if you go elsewhere. We can hold our head up against anybody.”

The audit is currently collecting data for the second audit period from 1 September 2016 to 31 August 2017. In the future, in addition to cataract surgery, audits will be undertaken for glaucoma, retinal detachment surgery and age related macular degeneration (AMD).

Professor John Sparrow, Consultant Ophthalmologist at Bristol Eye Hospital and Clinical Lead for the audit, commented: “Results are encouraging. We believe these data will drive improvements and help patients and the public understand the risks involved in cataract surgery. Better informed patients will be more aware of the need to engage with their consultants to ensure an optimum outcome for their sight.”

The NOD audit reports are available here