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Emerging from the first COVID-19 wave: archetyping the new NHS ophthalmic waiting room
  1. Graeme Kenneth Loh1,
  2. Minak Bhalla2,
  3. Laura Ah-kye3
  1. 1 Vitreoretinal Service (Ophthalmology), Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK
  2. 2 Glaucoma Service (Ophthalmology), Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK
  3. 3 Adnexal Service (Ophthalmology), Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Graeme Kenneth Loh, Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK; graemeloh{at}

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The COVID-19 global pandemic has brought the world to a relative standstill, dampening the fervour of eye care specialists hoping to make 2020 the year of championing ocular health. Even so, the seemingly insurmountable challenges we find ourselves facing as a specialty in this dark period have the potential to bring about long-term solutions to age-old problems. Enter the ophthalmic waiting room.

In the UK, NHS Digital’s 2019 report on outpatient attendances placed ophthalmology as the busiest outpatient specialty, seeing 7.9 million patients a year.1 This translated to nearly 10% of all outpatient visits coming through the ophthalmic waiting room. Additionally, alongside our ageing population, the improving community detection of eye conditions contributes to an increased need for ophthalmic outpatient care year on year. The 2018 RCOphth Workforce Census estimated that eye service demand will increase by 40% over the next 30 years.2 That is a staggering statistic, considering we already see more patients than any other specialty. Certain heavily subscribed ophthalmic subspecialities, including retina, glaucoma and cornea, are often reliant on same-day outpatient investigations, such as photographs, optical coherence tomography (OCT) and perimetry. The treadmill of multiple investigations at each outpatient visit lengthens the patient journey through the clinic, and patients are subsequently kept waiting hours before eventually seeing a doctor. This is a pervasive issue despite local initiatives to streamline and improve the outpatient experience.

With the hopes of an efficacious and widely available COVID-19 vaccine still more than a year away, social distancing and other measures to reduce the …

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  • Contributors All authors have equally contributed to the design, construction and editing of this viewpoint.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.