People across Cheshire and Merseyside are urged not to ignore eye problems as the number of patients across the region seeking care for urgent eye conditions drops during the Coronavirus pandemic. The Cheshire and Merseyside Eye Health Network has launched a new innovative service called COVID Urgent Eyecare Services (CUES) to support urgent eye care needs. People in the area who need urgent eye care should contact any opticians or call NHS 111 without delay. The sooner treatment can be provided the better the chances of eye health recovery.
The CUES service will be delivered by local opticians in partnership with hospital ophthalmology services. The service will use technology to provide remote consultations to patients meaning more patients will be able to access services, either at or close to home, reducing the need for travel and hospital visits. The service provides the quickest access to the right care for patients. This is crucial as delays to treatment can have a serious impact on long-term eye health, and in some cases even sight loss. Accessing help early, via the CUES service, will increase the likelihood of a positive outcome for patients.
Patients in the area can access the service by first contacting any local opticians or by calling NHS 111.They will then be provided with a remote consultation and a personalised care plan appropriate to their condition. The care plan may support the patient to self-manage their condition or provide further professional advice and guidance, including prescriptions. In the event that a face to face consultation is absolutely necessary, patients may be referred to another location or hospital service. Measures have been put in place in hospitals and other services to reduce the risk of patients being exposed to, or passing on, Coronavirus.
Rupesh Bagdai, Chair of the North West Local Eye Health Network, said:
“The new CUES service offers patients timely professional care in a safe place that is appropriate to each patient and in keeping with social distancing rules. I would encourage all patients with eye problems to contact any opticians or call NHS 111 as soon as possible. The earlier their eye problem can be treated the better, as this will reduce the likelihood of any long-term effects on their eye health.”
Mark Simpson, Independent Prescribing Optometrist and Director for Allister and Simpson Opticians, Neston, Cheshire, said:
“The NHS is working hard to keep you safe during the Coronavirus pandemic but you can still get help if you need it. If you are having issues with your eyes please don’t put it off or delay treatment. There is no need to do so and the consequences on your sight could be detrimental.”
In addition to any urgent eye care needs, patients in Cheshire and Merseyside are advised that some routine eye appointments are still going ahead, and unless an appointment has been cancelled, they may still attend if they are well.
The Partnership has launched ALMA, a wellbeing website that features a range of free apps and online courses, to support the health and wellbeing of people living and working in the region during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
The website provides access to three intensive online Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) courses, which focus on dealing with stress and anxiety, building mental resilience and getting better quality sleep. The courses, which are free of charge to Cheshire and Merseyside residents, have been developed by health and care professionals and offers a personalised and curated experience.
The online CBT courses are provided by SilverCloud and are the result of over 17 years of clinical research with leading academic institutions. In clinical trials, SilverCloud has demonstrated results similar to face-to-face therapy and real-world results show 65% of users achieve a significant decrease in depression and anxiety symptoms.
Users will also have access to a knowledge base of free health and wellbeing apps that have been evaluated by a medical professional for their clinical effectiveness. The range of apps includes mental wellbeing, exercise and diet, smoking cessation, sleep, and much more.
This app library is provided by the Organisation for the Review of Care and Health Apps (ORCHA). With over 365,000 health apps available on the market, ORCHA’s 260-point ‘Baseline Review’ (OBR) process breaks through the noise of unregulated and untrustworthy apps, and addresses challenges such as awareness, access, trust and governance of health apps. Further to this, ORCHA works with health economies to build on the OBR and add ‘local accreditation’ criteria as dictated by local health priorities that then allows regions to reach their own ‘locally approved’ list of apps.
Jim Hughes, Strategic Advisor for Digital Programmes at Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust and Programme Director for Patient Held Records for Cheshire and Merseyside Health and Care Partnership, said:
“We worked closely with our partners at Mindwave Ventures, ORCHA and SilverCloud to develop this website in a short timeframe, so that the Partnership can support as many people as possible. However, this is just a preview of what the website will eventually become.
“As part of the Partnership’s Digital Programme, ALMA will eventually be a ‘one stop shop’ for personal health records and a variety of health and wellbeing resources, including communications with clinicians, which will empower residents to take responsibility and control of their own health and wellbeing.”
To access the ALMA wellbeing website, please visit almahealth.co.uk.
Partners in the Health and Care system for St Helens are committed to integration and this continues to progress at pace across the borough as St Helens Cares. The vision is to create high quality and sustainable health and care services for our residents.
St Helens Cares Business Intelligence (BI) hub recently won the innovation award at the prestigious Healthcare Financial Management Association North West Branch awards. The team were praised for their work in delivering effective data sharing and activity analysis to inform financial decision making and remove duplication. It was a unanimous decision by the judges who said the award represented great working between partners.