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The number of eye patients awaiting treatment at Southern District Health Board hospitals continues to grow, but there has been marked improvement in the number of appointments booked and length of wait.
Delivering ophthalmology services has been a serious problem for the Southern District Health Board, and several patients have lost or partially lost sight due to waiting lists.
Latest figures show, as at January 22, 3351 patients were overdue for eye care, up from 3158 the previous month.
However, the number of appointments booked was up sharply — to 1025 from 823 — and the number of people who had waited more than 1.5 times longer than they should was down, to 485 from 672.
A report to the SDHB commissioner’s meeting last week set out strategies for reducing the ophthalmology waiting list, which the DHB has promised to address.
Mercy Hospital has been used for ophthalmology work, and two locums have been running clinics, particularly targeting urgent patients.
That number also fell last month: "Do Not Delay" patients dropped from 66 to 45.
"We are also close to a solution for two additional clinic rooms for the eye department within the hospital footprint," the report said.
"We hope to have this solution in place by mid-February, which would enable us to retain the locums ... and would allow us to achieve the June 2018 target of having zero cases under (1.5 times greater than expected waits) while simultaneously planning/implementing longer term model of care solutions."
The Ministry of Health has previously urged the SDHB to speed up plans to cut ophthalmology waiting lists.