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ADHB To Focus On Urgent Eye Cases


Auckland District Health Board is giving priority to urgent and semi-urgent eye cases at its ophthalmology outpatient clinics. Consequently, ADHB is notifying around 2000 people, graded as routine (Category D) that they will return to their GP or optometrist for review and ongoing care.

"We have been overwhelmed by the volumes of patient referrals and in order to work within our resources must concentrate on those with more urgent needs. It's better for people to be monitored and to get the care they need rather than waiting for an appointment they're not going to get soon," explained Dr Nigel Murray, general manager of Auckland City Hospital.

Ophthalmology is one of ADHB's largest and busiest patient services seeing around 46,600 patients a year. The service is increasingly under pressure. At the end of June 2004, the Eye Clinic (Ophthalmology) had 2383 (45%) out of 5217 patients waiting more than six months to be assessed in an outpatient clinic. This compares to only 1034 (23%) out of 4374 patients for the same time last year. Since more urgent cases always take priority, the patients who wait the longest are those who have been graded as routine.

All patient referrals received by the ophthalmology service are carefully read and graded by a specialist or ophthalmology GP Liaison. The grading decision is based on the information provided in a letter by the referrer. The patients who have been returned to their GP or optometrist have non-vision threatening problems such as lid lag, or cataracts that do not affect their ability to drive safely.

Dr Murray said that as part of being open and honest about the available resources to see and treat all patients referred to ADHB, it was important to communicate this to the Auckland community to explain the service that the publicly-funded hospitals can provide.

- Ends -

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