Rochdale NHS Ophthalmology Clinical Assessment and Treatment Service (CATS) has been named as the first specialist ophthalmology service in the country to receive an ‘outstanding’ rating by the national standards watchdog, the Care Quality Commission.
The service is run exclusively for NHS patients by Care UK and Manchester Consultant Eye Partnership (MCEP) and is commissioned by NHS Heywood, Middleton and Rochdale Clinical Commissioning Group (HMR CCG).
The service provides rapid assessment and diagnostics, sight-saving surgery and follow-up care to people in the Greater Manchester area. Last year its short-case presentation of results for the treatment of a particularly serious kind of eye disease, (age related macular degeneration) was published in the prestigious European magazine Ophthalmology Times.
The service provides a full range of local hospital eye-care, including management of glaucoma and macular conditions, as well as oculoplastic, retinal and cataract surgery to people in the Greater Manchester area.
Its treatment of Wet AMD takes a pioneering approach, seeing patients within 48-hours of referral and the service has some of the best published outcomes for Wet AMD patients in the UK. It even betters the high standards set by the Royal College of Ophthalmologists for this condition with over 99 per cent of patients saying they would recommend the service to their family and friends.
Following a detailed inspection and interviews with patients, the CQC inspectors praised the centre’s fast-track 48-hour service – from referral to treatment – for the vast majority of patients with Wet AMD. The fast-track includes a ‘one-stop-shop’ facility, where appropriate patients undergo their injections at their first appointment, reducing the likelihood of any further deterioration of vision.
Inspectors also noted the service was well planned, with patients’ individual needs central to the planning and delivery of care and treatment. Inspectors said: “The service proactively forward-planned up to 12 months in advance to ensure sufficient surgical sessions and clinics were scheduled to meet demand.”
This has led to the service offering cataract surgery within three weeks of initial consultation, compared to the NHS indicator of 18 week from referrals to treatment, which is proving popular with local NHS patients.
The report also praises the team’s caring attitude. Inspectors said: “Without exception, we observed compassionate and caring interactions between staff and patients, including supporting anxious and often elderly patients.”
The ophthalmology consultant who is the medical director for the service, Karen Goodall, said: “The fear of losing one’s sight is profound. Patients come to us at a time in their life when they are feeling particularly vulnerable. We work to ensure they have the support and understanding they need and we know, from their feedback, how much they appreciate it.
“We are delighted we have achieved the CQC’s highest rating. The service really is pioneering. It is no exaggeration to say our fast-track service, which the report describes as an area of outstanding practice, has helped to save people’s sight. Our cataract and glaucoma services have helped people recover or stabilise their levels of sight as well as helping them to understand and manage their condition. This is vital for a patient’s dignity and peace of mind and I’m pleased that the CQC inspectors have recognised the benefits of our approach for patients.”
The CQC report goes on to say: “Consultants, nurses and healthcare assistants all treated patients as partners in their care and were motivated to ‘go the extra mile’ to provide good quality care for patients. This was encouraged by the leaders of the service.”
Managers of the service have also set up two patient support groups – Wet AMD and Glaucoma – to help patients manage their condition and understand their treatment.
Karen added. “People attending the groups tell us they really value the chance to talk to other people going through the same experience and they feel calmer, as they have gained a better understanding of their condition and they have a sense of control.”
The Wet AMD group meets on the second Monday of each month at Rochdale Library while the Glaucoma group meets at Croft Shifa medical centre twice a year. Both sessions include talks from expert guest speakers as well as the chance to meet Care UK’s sight experts and other people living with the condition. Details of both groups are available by calling the service on 01706 764722.
The Rochdale service provides clinics in Croft Shifa Health Centre, Belfield Road, Rochdale and at the Phoenix Centre in Heywood. It has recently also been commissioned to run a new mobile eye clinic service for the Greater Preston, Chorley and South Ribble area which started on 3 April 2017.
Dr Chris Duffy, HMR CCG Chair and a local Heywood GP said: “The CCG is delighted with the outcome of the CQC inspection at the Rochdale CATS service. NHS HMR CCG has worked closely with Care UK/MCEP and service users to design the innovative, world class pathways which our population now benefits from and which have undoubtedly prevented people from losing their eyesight. The CCG looks forward to continuing to work with Care UK/MCEP and service users to continue this excellent track record of partnership working.”