Ophthalmology is one of the busiest specialties in the NHS, carrying out more than 500,000 operations every year (6% of the NHS total) and more than 7.5 million outpatient appointments.

Core ophthalmology services – dealing with cataracts, glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and diabetic eye conditions – are provided in almost every NHS trust in England. Much of the management of these conditions is non-surgical, although cataract surgery is the single most common surgical procedure in the NHS.

The recommendations in the GIRFT ophthalmology national report focus on how ophthalmology units treating all of the core conditions can free up capacity, enabling more patients to be seen and treated effectively in a timely way; make greater use of the wider team, reducing reliance on consultant-delivered care; and reduce the risk of avoidable sight loss and help protect people’s vision for longer.

Lydia Chang

Clinical Lead for Ophthalmology

Lydia was appointed a consultant ophthalmologist at Hinchingbrooke Hospital in 2008. She simultaneously served as an honorary consultant at Moorfields Eye Hospital (from 2008 to 2016), setting up the glaucoma service at Moorfields at Bedford Hospital. In 2020, she relocated and was appointed as a substantive consultant at the Luton and Dunstable University Hospital.

Her subspecialty interest is glaucoma, having completed an MD thesis evaluating the role of inflammation in glaucoma surgery, based at the Institute of Ophthalmology and the Royal Free Hospital.

Lydia was the Royal College of Ophthalmologists’ representative on the working group set up by the Clinical Council for Eye Health Commissioning, assisting in the publication of the Community Ophthalmology and Primary Eye Care for First Contact Care Frameworks in 2015 and 2016.

Jonathan (Jon) Bhargava

Clinical Lead for Ophthalmology

Jon is a consultant ophthalmic and oculoplastic surgeon at the Countess of Chester Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. He has been a consultant ophthalmologist since 2008, and specialises in safe and efficient cataract surgery. He was the chair of the Royal College of Ophthalmologists’ (RCOphth) Cataract Workforce Guidance Committee when the COVID-19 pandemic struck, and was heavily involved with designing COVID-safe pathways which were endorsed by RCOphth to enable a return to operating during the pandemic.

As chair, he also provided streamlined clinical pathways for cataract surgery and enabled workforce planning for the next 10 years to help meet increasing surgical demand.

Alison Davis

Report author and former clinical lead for ophthalmology

Alison’s background is as a consultant paediatric ophthalmologist. She is chief medical officer at Medway NHS Foundation Trust.

She started her clinical career as a paediatric ophthalmologist and has worked as a consultant at Moorfields Eye Hospital, St George’s University Hospital in Tooting, Croydon University Hospital and as an honorary consultant at Great Ormond Street Hospital.

More recently she was deputy medical director at Moorfields and hospital medical director at East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust.

She was the chair of the Specialised Ophthalmology and Ear Surgery Clinical Reference Group (CRG) for six years (2013-2019) and the NHS England National Clinical Adviser for ophthalmology from 2017-2019.

Alison stepped down as GIRFT clinical lead in April 2024.

Professor Dame Caroline MacEwen

Report author and former clinical lead for ophthalmology

Caroline (Carrie) is the past Chair of the Academy of Royal Medical Colleges and a consultant ophthalmologist at Ninewells Hospital, Dundee. An Honorary Chair as head of the department of ophthalmology at the University of Dundee, Carrie is ophthalmology specialty adviser to the Scottish government, and leads the national ophthalmology workstream.

She is also an associate post-graduate Dean in the East of Scotland for less than full time medical post-graduate training and career management, and has also chaired the Scottish update of Certification of Vision Impairment. Carrie was made an Honorary Fellow of the Faculty of Sport and Exercise Medicine in 2012, and the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh in 2015. She has published more than 150 papers and written and contributed to textbooks for both undergraduate students and qualified doctors. Carrie is a former president of the Royal College of Ophthalmologists.

In June 2021 she was awarded a damehood in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for her services to ophthalmology and leadership during the COVID-19 crisis. Carrie left the GIRFT programme in August 2021 to become acting Chair of the General Medical Council (GMC).

More sight-saving surgery possible

A national report into ophthalmology services recommends all trusts perform routine cataract surgery in 30 minutes or less, allowing even more patients to have vision-restoring treatment.

Making the best use of hospital theatre time allocated for routine cataract surgery will enable more patients to be treated, and more quickly, according the latest national report from the Getting It Right First Time (GIRFT) programme.

In December 2019, GIRFT published its national speciality report for Ophthalmology:

Click above to view the pdf report

Watch the video about the Ophthalmology report…

Click above to play the Ophthalmology national report video

Ophthalmology Academy Resources​