Plaid Cymru calls for urgent review into eye care services

Plaid Cymru is calling for Welsh Government to put a plan in place to ensure the most urgent eye care patients are seen within acceptable timescales.

New figures released this month show that one in two high risk ophthalmology patients are at risk of ‘irreversible harm or significant adverse outcome’ as a result of the target time being missed for their first outpatient appointment.

Waiting times were at their highest in the peak of the pandemic, but they have never recovered to pre-pandemic levels. As at May 2023, 52.5% of patients deemed ‘Health Risk Factor R1’ were waiting beyond the target date for an outpatient appointment, amounting to over 75,000 patients. This is an increase of 1,300 from the previous month.

Plaid Cymru spokesperson for health and care, Mabon ap Gwynfor MS said:

“It’s clear that Ophthalmology has been unable to recover from the pandemic, and the result could be devastating for too many patients. It’s simply not good enough that more than one in two patients are at risk of irreversible sight loss because Welsh Government can’t get a grip on waiting times.

“To show they are serious about eye care in Wales, we must see a plan from the Welsh Government on how they intend to expediate the most urgent cases on these waiting lists.

“In addition, Welsh Government need to put steps in place to ensure targets are driving the right behaviour, that targets are effectively monitored, that health boards have the resource to be able to deliver to target, and that remedial action is taken as soon as possible to look after the patients that have been let down by the system. This needs to include a deep dive into the measures, and the current processes, that are currently failing more than half of the highest risk eye care patients in Wales.”