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NEWS


AS A NEW UNIT OPENS IN NHS AYRSHIRE & ARRAN TO ACCOMMODATE A MORE PATIENT-CENTRED MACULAR SERVICE, SP CATCHES UP WITH ONE LOCAL PHARMACIST TO FIND OUT HOW A NEW EYECARE PILOT PROJECT IS WORKING…


ALL EYES ON AYRSHIRE & ARRAN!


In 2010, 19 per cent of Ayrshire & Arran’s population was over 65 years of age, and, by 2035, this figure is projected to increase to an alarming 30 per cent. Naturally, one of the consequences of this ageing population will be eye degeneration and potential sight loss. As a result, NHS Ayrshire & Arran are already taking steps to counteract this health issue.


For a start, people living in the region, who suffer from some of the most common forms of avoidable sight


loss, can now benefit from a new facility designed specifically for the eye service through a partnership between Novartis Pharmaceuticals UK Ltd and NHS Ayrshire & Arran.


With the current service operating within another shared unit which was already at full capacity, the team had to think differently about how patients could be treated in a timely manner.


As a result, Novartis and NHS Ayrshire & Arran developed a solution to transform their eye service by building


a dedicated extension on to the existing Ophthalmology Outpatient Department to deliver a more patient-centred macular service.


The new facility, based at University Hospital Ayr, will support the delivery of a one-stop clinic for patients and ensure patients are seen within the appropriate timeframe while accommodating future growth in eye services.


At the same time, a new campaign, which was launched in January of this year, is encouraging people from across Ayrshire and Arran to visit their local optometrist or optician if they experience any problems with their eyes.


The campaign, Eyecare Ayrshire, harnesses collaboration between optometrists, family doctors, clinical leads and pharmacists.


Until recently, eye patients in the region would go to their family doctor or the emergency department when they experienced problems with their eyes. This new initiative advises people to visit their optometrists instead, so that problems can be identified and the optician can make a diagnosis. Then, if required, the patient can get eye drops free of charge from their local community pharmacy.


It’s hoped that Eyecare Ayrshire will offer patients a more efficient way of accessing the most appropriate service, ie, those professionals who specialise in eye health and who are best placed to identify


and diagnose problems.


Local pharmacy contractor, Stephen McCormick, from Drongan Pharmacy believes that the initiative is already bringing benefits to patients.


‘As community pharmacists,’ Stephen told SP, ‘we’re more than aware of how many people attend their GP or A&E needlessly. It’s vital that we reduce the workload of GPs and the emergency department and we can do this by not only utilising the skills of opticians but also by including community pharmacy in the collaborative process.


‘Prior to this initiative going ‘live’ in January, we were certainly involved in the provision of eyecare products, but the problem was that when people went to their optician to deal with eyecare issues, the optician couldn’t prescribe the necessary products. It was therefore necessary for the patient to then either pay for their product - such as an eye lubricant, allergy drops or chloramphenicol eye drops – or to go to their GP to get a prescription for the item. As far as I am aware, there aren’t many opticians, who have done their prescribing qualification, so it was obvious that we needed a way of circumventing this ‘blockage’ in the system.


‘Thanks to this new initiative, the patient can now go to the optician and have their issue diagnosed. The optician can then give the patient a ‘signed order’ recommending a product from an approved list and the patient can take this signed order to their local community pharmacist to have it filled just like a prescription. In this way, NHS Ayrshire picks up the bill for the product and the pharmacist then invoices for it in the usual manner.


‘This new scheme will hopefully ensure that patients are receiving the correct eyecare product, prescribed by the relevant professional and dispensed through community pharmacy. In addition to the fact that it doesn’t cost the patient anything – and will hopefully persuade more people to visit their optician and prevent future eye issues – it also helps to relieve the workload at the GPs’ surgeries and at A&E.


Pictured at the launch of the Eyecare Ayrshire initiative are: (front row) Diane Lamprell, Dr Ajay Khosti, Cath Taysum, Irene Campbell and Anne Shaw. Back row (l-r): Dr Mohan Varikkara, Allan Thomas and Pam Milliken.


4 - SCOTTISH PHARMACIST


‘We’ve already seen patients use this new initiative and hopefully the roll-out of the scheme will see an increased number of patients take advantage of it in the future.’ •


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