13 May 2018

DHB struggles to clear follow-up eye exam backlog

10:51 am on 13 May 2018

The Counties Manukau DHB is still struggling to clear a backlog of patients who are overdue for their follow-up eye appointments, the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists says.

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The college, in conjunction with the DHB's ophthalmology department, is running a series of "mega clinics" to try and see some of the highest risk patients.

The first of four clinics is being held today.

The college's New Zealand chair, Brian Kent-Smith, said DHBs have been trying to reduce wait times, after concerns were raised a couple of years ago about patients going blind while their follow-up appointments were delayed.

"Most DHBs have made very good progress, but the one stand-out has been Counties Manukau, which has really just struggled to get on top of their follow-up appointments. We are looking at people who are more than 50 percent overdue for their follow-up," he said.

It was expected about 150 patients could be seen at each clinic.

Dr Kent-Smith said it wasn't a long term solution, but was a start in making a dent in the number of patients who were waiting too long.

The clinics would be staffed by specialists who were volunteering their time.

Three more clinics are scheduled over May and June.

The DHB has signed a memorandum of understanding with the college to continue improving its eye healthcare services.

Neighbouring Auckland DHB has also offered help to get more patients seen quickly.