New self-advocacy pilot launches to help eye patients prevent sight loss

Patient receiving OCT scan

Patients are being helped to take care of their sight under a new pilot scheme to end cancelled, delayed or missed eye clinic appointments.

RNIB (Royal National Institute of Blind People) is trialling a patient self-advocacy project in partnership with the Macular Society, International Glaucoma Association, and The Royal College of Ophthalmologists.

Ask & Tell encourages patients to ask their eye doctor when their next appointment should be and to tell reception staff so it is kept. Ask & Tell also aims to increase capacity in the eye clinic by reminding patients not to miss their appointments. During the six month pilot, patients can access a range of Ask & Tell resources and information online and in the eye clinic to support them to look after their sight. 

Around 20 patients a month in England experience sight loss as a result of hospital-initiated appointment delays, according to research from The Royal College of Ophthalmologists. 

Cathy Yelf, Chief Executive of the Macular Society, said: "Understandably, patients get very frightened when their appointments are delayed or cancelled because they know the consequences. We look forward to piloting Ask & Tell and hope it will mean more patients get access to the timely treatment they need."

RNIB will use feedback from the pilots to inform a roll out of Ask & Tell across England later this year.

The hospitals taking part in the Ask & Tell pilot are:

  • Manchester Royal Eye Hospital
  • Royal Blackburn Hospital
  • Salisbury District Hospital
  • West of England Eye Unit at Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital
  • Great Western Hospital, Swindon
  • Moorfields Eye Hospital, Old Street site, London
  • Heartlands Hospital, Birmingham