New mobile NHS eye service helps to save the sight of people in Doncaster

A new, mobile sight-saving service is set to change the way people in Doncaster receive treatment for the debilitating disease Wet Age-related Macular Degeneration (Wet AMD) when it launches on August 9.

Tuesday, 27th July 2021, 10:21 am
Updated Tuesday, 27th July 2021, 10:22 am

The NHS service, delivered by Practice Plus Group, provides quick and effective treatment for patients who have been GP or optician referred for Wet AMD, diabetic macular oedema or retinal vein occlusions. Patients will be offered an appointment within 72-hours of referral.

Patients will be treated by specialist nurses overseen by an ophthalmology consultant team led by Karen Goodall Practice Plus Group’s national director for macular services.

Karen explained: “Wet AMD is caused when abnormal blood vessels grow into the macula area, which is responsible for central vision. Blood or fluid can leak from these vessels, causing scarring and rapid loss of vision.

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Specialist Wet AMD nurse Lynn Ford examines a patient's eyes

“According to the Macular Society, age-related macular degeneration affects more than 600,000 people in the UK and is one of the leading causes of vision loss. The good news is that, with prompt treatment, deterioration can be stopped in its tracks and a person’s sight saved.

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“We have established fast-track referral pathways for optometrists and GPs that ensures, the moment they become concerned their patient may have Wet AMD, they can call us for an appointment. We aim to see, diagnose and treat patients within 72 hrs of referral and we achieve 100 per cent of appointments within a week. That’s twice as quickly as the Royal College of Ophthalmology guidelines. As a result, our outcomes are among the best in the country.”

Practice Plus Group, which runs the service on behalf of the NHS, has invested more than £300,000 in the mobile clinical unit, which incorporates a waiting room, assessment area and treatment room in which patients receive the sight-stabilising injections. The team are based out of the Rochdale Ophthalmology Centre which has been rated as Outstanding by the Care Quality Commission.

Karen Goodall

The service will prevent people with visual problems having to travel considerable distances from their homes for treatment. It will be possible for local patients, who currently travel outside the area to receive treatment, to be transferred to the new local service by their GP or optometrist.

AMD Nurse Practitioner Lynn Ford, who will be helping to deliver the service, said: “Patients come to us at a time in their lives when they are feeling particularly vulnerable. They may have started to lose their central vision, and the thought of having injections into their eye may also cause anxiety.”

She added: “Previous patients have told us that at a time when their vision is compromised and confidence affected, trips to large, imposing hospitals can be frightening. We bring our service into the community, arranging appointments at the closest location to a patient’s home in a smaller, friendlier, more welcoming environment”

The Doncaster service will be visiting B&Q car park, Catesby Business Park, Doncaster, DN4 8SJ.

You can take a virtual tour of the service or watch a video tour at the website​

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Liam Hoden, editor.