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RNIB Announces Pilot Partnership With Primary Eyecare To Provide Extra Patient Support in the North-West


17 November 2023

RNIB and Primary Eyecare Services are joining forces with the objective of significantly improving the way patients with sight loss access support and care. The first venture for the partnership will be to establish a direct referral route for optometrists in North-West England.

According to RNIB data, there were almost a quarter of a million people (243,000) in the North-West estimated to be living with sight loss in 2022. The need for support will continue to grow with that figure estimated to increase to 287,000 people by 2032.

This new integrated approach reflects the importance of establishing integrated eyecare across the sector, and beyond. It means that patients can directly access not only RNIB’s range of support services, but also a range of other experts in their fields via introductions co-ordinated by the charity.

In this way, patients will be able to access holistic support across issues relating to non-medical concerns associated with vision changes, such as practical advice, emotional support, financial guidance and general signposting to assistive technology. There will also be a new ‘waiting well’ team on standby to look after people who have been diagnosed with an eye condition but who have not, as yet received a follow up appointment date.

Single Point of Access to Referrers

Referring patients directly into RNIB’s Sight Loss Advice Service aligns perfectly with Primary Eyecare’s patient-centric approach. By simplifying the process of accessing specialised support and other local resources, people will be able to receive the assistance they need faster and more conveniently.

All too often, access to local support services can be difficult to navigate for the referring practitioner and tends to differ by area. RNIB ‘s Sight Loss Advice Service offers a single point of access for referrers allowing the RNIB team to help patients access all the support available to them, whether via the charity’s own resources or by being routed to the most appropriate local agency.

Taking steps to ensure that patients’ non-clinical needs are looked after as well as their clinical ones ensures a personalised, tailored experience that takes account of each individual’s specific challenges and circumstances. Moreover, it helps patients to feel empowered to make informed decisions about their treatment option and their lifestyle choices. The work forms part of the recently launched UK-wide eye care support pathway.

Commenting on the new collaboration, Wendy Craven, one of Primary Eyecare Services’ Clinical Directors, said: “The partnership between RNIB and Primary Eyecare Services signifies a shared commitment to addressing the challenges faced by individuals with sight loss and ensuring they receive the multi-faceted help they need.”

Wendy Craven

Reinforcing Wendy’s commitment to patient support and emphasising Primary Eyecare Services’ patient-focused value system, CEO Dharmesh Patel commented: “This partnership reflects our vision of making a positive overall impact on communities and improving the lives of individuals with visual impairments. By establishing a direct referral route, optometrists in the north-west region will have a streamlined process to refer their patients seamlessly to RNIB’s services and, under the charity’s guidance, to other sources of non-clinical expertise and guidance.”

Rob Cooper, RNIB’s NHS Engagement Lead said the collaborative pilot had enabled the two organisations to pool their resources to significantly improve patient experience. “It is very exciting to be joining forces with Primary Eyecare Services to champion such an innovative and holistic approach to eye care. Via the seamless integration of our support services with existing NHS clinical pathways, we aim to hugely enhance many different aspects of the lives of patients dealing with eye conditions and sight loss.”

Find Out More – Join Our CPD-accredited Pilot Briefing Webinar on 29 November, 7pm to 8.30pm

Please join us for a virtual session introducing RNIB’s information, advice and support services for patients and giving details about an optional, free of charge online training package open to practitioners and their wider clinical teams.

Click here for further details and booking instructions.

Our evening, CPD-accredited webinar on 29 November 2023 will give north-west based optometrists a briefing on the RNIB Sight Loss Advice Service and encourage practitioners and their wider teams to utilise the direct access referral route via Primary Eyecare.

Serving as a launch pad for this transformative initiative, this session will take the form of a presentation on the pilot followed by an interactive CPD accredited session to increase the awareness of the additional support that patients may require beyond medical and optometric management.  There will also be an interactive FAQ session allowing participants to ask questions, seek clarification, and engage in discussions with representatives from Primary Eyecare Services and RNIB. 

The event will also offer practitioners the opportunity to attend a free three-part online training programme on the patient support service.