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New ophthalmology pathway has substantially reduced wait times for paediatric care in Galway

Waiting times for paediatric patients requiring eye tests have been reduced dramatically from 2 years to 6 weeks in Galway under the new Ophthalmology Modernised Care Pathway.

Over 3,500 children have been treated from the waiting list, including 2,633 who had been waiting for more than a year.

Currently there are no waiting lists for paediatric eye care in Galway for new or review patients, with children being seen within the HSE Urgent and Routine category timelines.

The Ophthalmology Paediatric Care Pathway, which has been in operation in Galway since May 2023, is a Community Healthcare West managed integrated service with links to Galway University Hospitals.

The clinics are run by a Community Integrated Eye Care Team, led by a Consultant Medical Ophthalmologist, and operate five days a week in Galway City (Shantalla), Tuam, and Loughrea.

Modernised Care Pathways are a key deliverable of the Waiting List Action Plan 2023, a frontrunner of integrated care delivery, and a building block for the new HSE Health Regions.

"This has been a game changer in the delivery of ophthalmology care to children,” said Dr Geraldine Comer, Consultant Medical Ophthalmologist for Community Healthcare West Galway and Lead Ophthalmologist for the Galway Community Integrated Eye Care team.

"The service, which was previously hospital and community focused, is now a community-led service and has significantly improved access to planned care services and reduced wait times. The Community Integrated Eye Care team see and treat children in the recommended timeframes, closer to home, and often without the need for hospitalisation.

“The rate for paediatric eye care increased from 12-17 to 37 clinics per week, with a 2-4 fold increase in the number of children seen and treated by the team, up from 90 to 360 children per week in Galway.

“70% of paediatric eye referrals have been removed from the waiting list at Galway University Hospitals and redirected to Community Integrated Eye Care teams across Community Healthcare West, (Galway, Mayo and Roscommon).  A pathway has been established for existing patients in the hospital to be referred directly to community, allowing for a larger number of children attending the hospital to now be seen by the Community Integrated Eye Care team” added Dr Comer.

“The development of this modern service ensures that patients are seen faster and progress through a more simplified journey towards definitive treatment.”

Tony Canavan, Regional Executive Officer HSE West and Northwest welcomed the initiative. “This integrated pathway has made an incredible difference to our youngest patients requiring ophthalmology care. Thanks to the work of the team, children are being seen much quicker and the need for hospital stays is reducing. I want to commend all the team for the fantastic work done and the very real impact this is having on the lives of our patients.”

Photo Caption:
Dr Geraldine Comer Lead Ophthalmologist for the Galway Community Integrated Eye Care team with 5-year-old Finn Donegan from Barna, Co Galway.

The article above is specific to the following Saolta hospitals:: 
University Hospital Galway (UHG)