Pressure on capacity in ophthalmology alongside the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic led to the development of the COVID-19 Urgent Eyecare Service (CUES), allowing patients to receive a prompt ophthalmic consultation, including remotely. The aim of this study was to conduct a service evaluation of CUES in Manchester.
Data were collected both prospectively and retrospectively from both primary and secondary care over an 8-week period from June to August 2020.
In primary care CUES in Greater Manchester (GM) 2461 patients were assessed, with a majority self-referring to the service (68.7%, n = 1844). 91.7% of cases initially screened for CUES were deemed eligible and given a telemedicine appointment in GM; 53.3% of these cases required face-to-face consultation. 14.3% of cases seen within in GM CUES (351 out of 2461) were provisionally referred to secondary care. Contemporaneously the main provider emergency eyecare department (EED) attendances were reduced by 37.7% per month between April and December 2020 inclusive, compared to the same months in 2019. Patients attending a CUES face-to-face assessment were more likely to have a diagnosis in agreement with secondary care, compared to patients referred in from telemedicine assessment only (P < 0.05).
This evaluation of CUES demonstrates a high level of primary care activity alongside a sustained reduction in EED cases. The case-mix of patients seen within EED following referral appears to be of a less benign nature than those cases seen prior to the introduction of CUES.