Ophthalmology Waiting Times

It is of great concern to the Irish College of Ophthalmologists, the training and representative body for Eye Doctors in Ireland, that the existing ophthalmology service is significantly under capacity to deal with current demand.  

Ophthalmology has one of the highest waiting times for outpatient and inpatient and day case surgery for patients in Ireland and investment in the service is urgently required in order to prevent unnecessary and avoidable vision loss for patients. 

The ICO and Clinical Lead for Ophthalmology, Prof William Power are calling on the Minister for Health Mr Simon Harris and his Department to implement as a matter of priority and without further delay the recommendations contained in the HSE Primary Care Eye Services Review Group Report.  The Report was approved as Government Policy and published by the HSE nearly one year ago on June 28th 2017. 

The enhanced Clinical Model of Care in Ophthalmology outlined in the Clinical Programme for Ophthalmology and reflected in the HSE Primary Eye Care Report recommends that a multidisciplinary eye care team (Specialist Eye Care Team) consisting of eye doctors, optometrists, orthoptists and nurses work together in the community in primary care centres in each Community Healthcare Organisation area.  

The College has emphasised that this will not require huge capital investment as the infrastructure is largely in place throughout the country in the form of Primary Care Centres, but will require  manpower in the form of the Specialist Eye Care Team.  The ICO is collaborating with the HSE in order to provide our support and medical expertise in working together on the solutions required to tackle cataract waiting times for patients in the form of dedicated and increased theatre capacity to facilitate the patient numbers and demands for this surgical procedure.   

A dedicated cataract unit opened at the Royal Victoria Eye and Ear Hospital in July 2017.  The unit is a state of the art facility which was developed to increase theatre capacity within the hospital and to provide a cost effective solution to increasing waiting lists for cataract procedures.   

A new dedicated HSE cataract unit is due to open in Nenagh later this summer, with a new modular one also planned for Waterford.  These measures are aimed at significantly reducing waiting times for cataract surgery in these areas, which are among the highest in the country.

The latest National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) figures for ophthalmology waiting times indicate that 11,070 are waiting for Day or Inpatient Care, while the Out-Patient list stands at 40,928 as of April 2018.   This HIPE data does not capture the community waiting lists where the Primary Care Report stated that there was another 30,000 wait listed.

Indicating a slight improvement on the procedures list, HSE funded hospitals delivered 1,187 more cataract surgeries in the last 12 months, an 11.7% increase over the previous 12 months.  There has also been a significant 18% reduction to the In Patient/Day Case waiting list volume for ophthalmology over the last 12 months.

Irish College of Ophthalmologists


28th May 2018