Work starts on new ophthalmic diagnostics centres in Somerset
Ophthalmology patients in Somerset will soon be able to be assessed at two brand new diagnostic centres in Yeovil and Taunton.
The multimillion-pound project has been partly funded by money received from NHS England, with the Yeovil centre based in the previous Monsoon retail unit on Middle Street in Yeovil town centre, and the Taunton centre located at Blackbrook Business Park, close to the M5.
The work at both centres is being undertaken by Speller Metcalfe, who completed Yeovil Hospital’s new residential accommodation for staff last year and have a long-standing history of successful NHS developments.
The new centres will be able to carry out investigations for retinal and glaucoma patients in Somerset. Between them, they will have the capacity to see over 20,000 patients a year in a ‘one stop shop’, where patients will be able to have their tests and images taken in the same appointment.
Ophthalmology is the highest volume outpatient specialty in the NHS and demand for the treatment of eye care areas, such as glaucoma, cataract, retina and urgent care, is predicted to rise by 60 per cent in medical retina and 44 per cent in glaucoma over the next 20 years.
Operating these centres will help to tackle a growing waiting list and will reduce the delays patients have experienced over the last two years as a result of the pandemic. It will also help meet the challenge of the expected future demand on the service.
Mr Edward Herbert, Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon at Somerset NHS Foundation Trust, said: “This is a great step forward in delivering eye care across Somerset. With defined pathways the clinics tend to run much more on time than a standard clinic and the length of time each patient needs to be in the unit is much shorter. Access to the clinic is also expected to be a good deal easier than the main hospital.
“Expanding these clinics off-site will help us catch up with the backlog from the pandemic and meet the future rising demand.”
Both centres will have a range of refurbishment works undertaken, including stripping out of old elements such as ceilings and partitions, and installation of new flooring, partitions and suspended ceilings, along with new mechanical and electrical works.
Peter Lewis, Chief Executive of Somerset NHS Foundation Trust and Yeovil Hospital said: “We are pleased to be able to invest in these two new ophthalmic diagnostic centres in Yeovil and Taunton for our patients.
“The centres will provide patients across the whole of Somerset with better access to eye care. Somerset has an ageing population and the number of ophthalmology patients with retinal or glaucoma conditions increases with age.
“We also have one of the largest waiting lists in the country due to our patient demographic so these centres will enable us to see and treat more patients and reduce our waiting lists.”
Both centres, which were procured through the Procure Partnerships Framework, are expected to be open for patients in Spring 2022.
L-R: Peter Lewis, Chief Executive; Rebecca Whittaker, General Manager, Mr Pari Shah, Consultant Ophthalmologist; David Shannon, Programme Director, Somerset Foundation Trust, James Tovey, Quedam Manager.