Filling the gap where patients used to fall: evaluating the role and impact of eye clinic liaison officers and other vision support workers across the United Kingdom

March 22, 2017

In partnership with the Swansea Centre for Health Economics (SCHE), Swansea University, WIHSC has been working on a major study commissioned by the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) to evaluate the impact that patient information and support services in UK NHS ophthalmology departments makes for patients, the clinic and on services more generally.

RNIB were interested to understand the difference that those that provide patient information or support services (most typically called eye clinic liaison officers – ECLOs, or vision support officers) make where they are present in clinics – whether defined in health-related quality of life outcomes (HRQoL) for people with sight loss, capturing or quantifying other benefits that they bring to the running of the clinic.

The study was designed to identified impacts in three domains – for patients, on the clinics in which they operate, and their impact on services more generally. The report concluded that:

  • On patients: ECLOs help those with the greatest needs and appear to maintain their health-related quality of life by providing a wide range of well-targeted, well-appreciated services;
  • On clinics: Across the UK, the study described seven broad types of valued service and support provided by ECLOs, working in ways which reflect the individual circumstances of different clinics and hospitals; and
  • On services: ECLOs enhance and broaden the care which clinical services provide, thereby potentially reducing patients’ longer-term care needs, and release NHS staff to perform their clinical roles. Evidence of their impact on productivity and efficiency is less clear, but they do make a contribution to various other NHS objectives relevant to all four nations

The study was led by WIHSC’s Deputy Director, Dr Mark Llewellyn and for more information about the study, please contact Mark – mark.llewellyn@southwales.ac.uk.

Tagged: health policy