Moorfields Eye Hospital will be quadrupling the number of cataract operations taking place at the trust in a single week as part of a new initiative to help clear surgical waiting lists, which have been significantly affected by Covid-19. Starting on 14 September, this ambitious project, known as the ‘cataract drive’, will be the first of its kind in the UK.
The ‘cataract drive’ will see eight operating theatres at Moorfields across six days providing four times the cataract procedures that they usually perform in a week. To make this possible, theatres at Moorfields Private will only be providing emergency surgeries that week to free up more theatre space for cataract procedures. The surgery day process has also been adapted aiming for patients to spend just over an hour on site, as opposed to the usual longer times.
A cataract is clouding of the lens inside the eye, causing gradual blurring of vision. Surgery is the only available treatment for cataracts and is very effective, straightforward and quick for the vast majority of patients. A cataract operation takes between 20 to 40 minutes and involves removing the cloudy part of the natural lens of the eye and replacing it with an artificial lens fitted inside the eye.
Moorfields has followed or exceeded all guidelines to ensure the safety of patients and staff in the current Covid-19 pandemic. Safety measures include all patients and staff wearing face masks on site (unless exempt), a one-way system in corridors and reduced capacity in waiting rooms to allow social distancing, alongside plastic protective screens at all reception desks.
This unprecedented project will also be supported by over 80 volunteers covering nearly 200 shifts kindly provided by St John Ambulance. The trained first aiders will assist patients through every step of their surgery, including helping with pre-operative assessments, accompanying and reassuring them during their surgery, and assisting with their discharge. The project is also supported by long-standing industry partner Alcon, who will provide the latest technology in intraocular lenses, equipment and dedicated technical service support.
David Probert, chief executive of Moorfields Eye Hospital, commented: “The Covid-19 pandemic has meant that many patients have to wait longer to access the care they need. After a number of successful pilots, we are now able to safely offer many more patients the chance to have this important surgery. I am incredibly proud of the adaptability and creativity of staff at Moorfields for innovating and working together in this way to help as many patients as possible. This project is the first of its kind and could be an example to rest of the NHS for a new way to clear waiting lists in the wake of covid-19.”
Vincenzo Maurino, consultant eye surgeon and cataract service director at Moorfields Eye Hospital, said: “The cataract drive needs a great deal of planning and we are rethinking how we do almost everything to make this possible. We are excited about this opportunity to help so many of our patients in such a short time and we hope to learn from this novel approach.”
Moorfields patient, Brenda Silverman, from Bushey, said: “I am delighted that I get to have my cataract surgery as part of the Moorfields cataract drive as it will allow me to get back to doing everything I enjoy with no further delay. Our sight is something we should never take for granted and I am grateful to Moorfields for continuing to help patients like me during these strange times.”
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