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Optometry independent prescribing during COVID lockdown in Wales

Cottrell, Paul, North, Rachel ORCID:, Sheen, Nik and Ryan, Barbara 2022. Optometry independent prescribing during COVID lockdown in Wales. Ophthalmic and Physiological Optics 42 (6) , pp. 1289-1303. 10.1111/opo.13028

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Introduction: During the COVID‐19 lockdown, primary care optometry services in Wales moved to a hub model of provision. Three independent prescribing models were available in different areas: a commissioned Independent Prescribing Optometry Service (IPOS), independent prescribers that were not commissioned and no independent prescribers available. This allowed a unique opportunity for comparison. Method: Optometry practices completed an online survey for each patient episode. Analysis of the data gave insight into patient presentation to urgent eye services and the drugs prescribed by optometrists. Medicines prescribed, sold or given and onward referral were compared between areas with an IPOS service (n = 2), those with prescribers but no commissioned service (n = 2) and those with no prescribers (n = 2). Results: Data from 22,434 reported patient episodes from 81 optometry practices in six health boards between 14 April 2020 and 30 June 2020 were analysed. Urgent care accounted for 10,997 (49.02%) first appointments and 1777 (7.92%) follow‐ups. Most (18,006, 80.26%) patients self‐referred. The most common presenting symptom was ‘Eye pain/discomfort’ (4818, 43.81% of urgent attendances). Anterior segment pathology was the most reported finding at first (6078, 55.27%) and follow‐up (1316, 74.06%) urgent care appointments. Topical steroids (373, 25.99% of prescriptions) were the most prescribed medications. More medications were prescribed in areas with an IPOS service (1136, 79.16% of prescriptions) than areas with prescribers but no commissioned service. There were more follow‐up appointments in optometric practice and fewer urgent referrals to ophthalmology in IPOS areas. Conclusion: Urgent care services were most utilised by patients with discomfort caused by anterior eye conditions. IPOS services enabled optometrists to manage conditions to resolution without referral and without reduction in medications sold or given. Commissioners should recognise the value in reducing burden in urgent ophthalmology and the need for follow‐up as part of a commissioned independent prescribing service.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Optometry and Vision Sciences
Additional Information: License information from Publisher: LICENSE 1: URL:
Publisher: Wiley
ISSN: 0275-5408
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 15 August 2022
Date of Acceptance: 27 June 2022
Last Modified: 18 Aug 2023 09:41

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