WITH waiting times figures for eyecare appointments in Wales to be published for the first time today, Tuesday, the Welsh Government has announced £10 million is being invested into improving the availability of ophthalmology services.

The new figures, to be published this morning, will set out how many ophthalmology patients assessed as being at risk of irreversible or significant harm if they did not receive treatment within a specific time period were treated within their target date.

And, as the figures are released, health minister Vaughan Gething announced £10 million is being handed to Wales' health boards to improve services. Of this, £231,000 is going to the Aneurin Bevan University Health Board, to be used to increase the availability of Optometric Diagnostic and Treatment Centres across Gwent.


Mr Gething said: “Currently nearly 111,000 people in Wales are living with sight loss and this is predicted to double by 2050. Improving access and speeding up diagnosis are vital to ensure eye care services are fit for the future.

"We don’t want people to risk their sight by having to wait a long time for a follow-up appointment after having their initial assessment. This is why we are introducing the new performance measure together with £10 million funding to transform the way we deliver eye care."

South Wales Argus:

Health minister Vaughan Gething

Director of the Royal National Institute for the Blind Cymru Ansley Workman welcomed the investment.

She said: “For years patients have been telling us that they are missing out on vital treatment due to long waiting times, fuelled by cancelled and delayed appointments.

"This can lead to people losing their sight permanently, which could have been prevented with timely care and treatment.

“We will now have data available showing the number of people who are waiting too long and allow us to see the true scale of the challenges we face.

"This is a major step forward for health boards.

"It is only through real transformation of our eye care services and commitment to the new measures will we be able to stop people with treatable conditions losing their sight unnecessarily.”

There are no set waiting times for ophthalmology services in Wales - rather, each patient referred to hospital is allocated a maximum waiting time based on their condition.