A new cataract unit, which will have capacity to perform an additional 3,000 cataract procedures annually has been opened at the Royal Victoria Eye & Ear Hospital in Dublin.
A spokesperson for the RVEEH said it was expected to reduce public waiting lists for cataract surgery within the Ireland East Hospital Group catchment area by half in 2018 and eliminate it by 2019.
“The cataract unit can provide a long-term solution to waiting lists for patients of the RVEEH, the IEHG and potentially nationally. It is the first of a three stage RVEEH ophthalmology strategy to address the significant capacity issues for cataract patients. The other stages include the implementation of a hub and spoke model whereby RVEEH will remain the main tertiary provider for complex subspecialty eye disorders while developing community based units at regional hospitals and primary care units and the implementation of an electronic health record to enable a hub-and spoke regional delivery of care.
The official opening of the unit was performed by Health Minister, Simon Harris, with the President of the Council of the Royal Victoria Eye and Ear Hospital, Patrick Dowling and CEO of the Ireland East Hospital Group (IEHG), Mary Day.
The RVEEH spokesperson said currently, the demand for cataract surgery across the IEHG (which includes RVEEH, the Mater Misericordiae University Hospital and St Vincent’s University Hospital) outstripped capacity by about 25%.
“This has led to a waiting list which now stands at 3,180 and means that patients are waiting for 8.5 months on average for their procedures across the group. It is also expected that the demand for cataract services will grow by a further 17% between 2016 and 2021 within the IEHG, meaning that if left unaddressed, the waiting list for cataract procedures would rise from 3,180 in 2016 to 11,959 by 2021.
“The new cataract unit can provide a 36% increase in capacity in the IEHG, eliminating cataract surgery waiting lists by 2019.
“The new cataract unit will be operational four days a week and will improve the cost-effectiveness of the surgery. The cataract unit will also prioritise patients waiting the longest. In addition, 100% of the base capacity (approx. 2,400 procedures) will be maintained in the RVEEH existing theatres.
Speaking at the launch of the cataract unit was President of the Royal Victoria Eye and Ear Hospital, Patrick Dowling said ”“Since its inception nearly 120 years ago, the RVEEH has become the centre of excellence for ophthalmology and otolaryngology in Ireland.
CEO of the Ireland East Hospital Group, Mary Day said, “The RVEEH’S plans will see cataract services being organised and coordinated across all 11 IEHG hospitals and is the start of a transformational process over the course of the three years to eliminate cataract procedure waiting lists across the group.”