Emergency eye care in Bedfordshire Image By Kadmy AdobeStock_79966963 Image posed by models

Service removes the need for referrals from GPs or healthcare professionals

The COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact on the availability of a number of routine health services. As part of the local NHS recovery plan Bedfordshire and Luton Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) have launched the new service to ensure the public can access urgent eye care.

Dr Nicola Smith is chair of Bedfordshire and Luton CCGs. She said:

“The launch of the new Urgent Eye Care Service is another step towards restoring routine health services to the region. Eye health should not be neglected and anyone who has concerns about their eyes should call the new service to be assessed.”

Patients who have a new minor eye complaint can call a dedicated Freephone number, without the need for a referral from a GP or other healthcare professional.

After an initial assessment, patients will then be called by a clinician who will provide a telephone or video consultation and recommend treatment.

By using technology the number of face-to-face appointments will be reduced, relieving pressure on busy GP practices and hospital eye services/ophthalmology departments.

If, however, a face-to-face consultation is necessary a local optician will be informed and an appointment arranged. During the appointment all national guidance on PPE and social distancing rules will be observed.

The Urgent Eye Care Service can treat a range of common conditions including:

  • A red or painful eye
  • Removal of a foreign body
  • Sudden loss or change in vision
  • Flashes and floaters
  • Dry eye or gritty and uncomfortable eyes
  • Irritation and inflammation of the eye
  • Significant sticky discharge from the eye or watery eye
  • Ingrowing eyelashes

The service does not cover long-term conditions, sight tests or major eye conditions that are being regularly monitored by an optometrist or hospital eye service, e.g. cataracts, diabetic retinopathy or glaucoma.

All adults and children (over the age of two) registered with a local GP in the Bedfordshire or Luton areas can use the service for free. Children under 16 years must be accompanied at their appointment by an adult.

The service is also available to those not registered with a local GP but who are a resident and eligible for NHS care.

Anyone with a recent minor eye care problem who needs urgent care must first call the Freephone number 0800 316 9200. People may also be redirected to the service by their GP, pharmacist, optician, NHS 111 or A&E.

The Urgent Eye Care Service is open seven days a week between 08.00 and 20.00hrs. Only telephone bookings will be accepted.

For a major eye injury or a serious or life-threatening emergency, call 999.