Glaucoma treatment: Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals foundation trust

Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals foundation trust has successfully piloted a scheme to share the management of new and existing glaucoma patients with community-based specialist optometrists.

Since February 2005, all new glaucoma referrals to the hospital's eye department have been vetted by consultants for urgency and seen promptly in the community by a optometrist glaucoma specialist.

In addition, we began transferring the care of patients with stable or suspected glaucoma or risk factors, from the hospital to the community, at the doctor's discretion.

The specialists carry out assessments, compiling their results on standard forms. All information is sent to the hospital eye department for a consultant-led medical assessment.

Depending on how a consultant rates the specialist's assessment, patients may start treatment quickly, with the GP prescribing on the hospital's behalf. They return to the specialist after three months for a follow-up assessment before being seen by the hospital.

The aim of the scheme is to save patients from travelling to hospital and free up appointments for patients with a higher risk. We also wanted to unify and improve our assessments, reduce waiting times and provide consistent patient information.

By the end of June this year, over 800 patients had been seen by the specialists. In well over three quarters of cases the consultant agreed with the assessments and diagnoses. Patient satisfaction surveys scored over 80 per cent.

Clinical and technical standards and record-keeping have also improved.

Susana Ramirez-Florez is consultant ophthalmologist at Peterborough and Stamford trust.