A new urgent eye service launches in Leeds

A new service has launched today (1 September) in Leeds to help people access urgent, emergency, eyecare.

The local NHS has teamed up with the Leeds Local Optical Committee to launch CUES, which stands for COVID-19 Urgent Eyecare Service.

CUES is free to access and is for all patients. The service will predominately be delivered over the phone or through a video consultation. For more complex or severe cases, face-to-face appointments will be offered. The service has been launched to reduce pressure on busy Accident and Emergency departments where strict social distancing measures in waiting and treatment areas are in place to reduce the spread of COVID-19. As a result, where possible, people are being offered emergency care in other locations or from the comfort of their own home delivered by clinical experts.

Paul Appleson, an Optometrist in Leeds, said: “If you have an urgent eye problem, such as red eye, sore/painful eye, flashes or floaters (this could be small dark spots, squiggly lines, rings or cobwebs), foreign bodies (an object in your eye that shouldn’t be there, such as a speck of dust, a wood chip, a metal shaving, an insect or a piece of glass), or sudden change in vision, please visit the Primary Eyecare website (www.primaryeyecare.co.uk/find-a-practice) to find which local optician is taking part in CUES. Or, ring your optician or GP, when your optician or GP is closed you can call NHS 111 (you can access NHS 111 online www.111.nhs.uk), they will assess the situation and if needed you will be referred into CUES. Once you’ve been referred into CUES, you will be assessed by qualified eye health specialist – an optometrist (optician) – over the phone. You may need simple advice and guidance, or a prescription for some medication. However, if you need further treatment this will either be offered via a video call or you may be asked to attend a face-to-face appointment.

“If you’re unable to be treated through CUES, the optician will speak to a hospital-based specialist – an ophthalmologist – at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust on your behalf. If it is clinically appropriate you will be asked to come into hospital to see an ophthalmologist, where you will be seen in a safe and low risk environment.”

Dr Jason Broch, GP and Clinical Chair at NHS Leeds Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “If you have an urgent eye problem, please visit the Primary Eyecare website to find an optician near you and call them and they will arrange an appointment within the service. Or, ring your optician or GP, when your optician or GP is closed you can call NHS 111. The sooner treatment can be provided the better the chances of your eye health recovering.

“The local NHS has partnered up with Leeds Local Optical Committee to make sure patients get quick access to the right care without any delays. Whether you’re told to self-manage your eye condition or are given a prescription for a certain medicine, the clinician will make that decision. If you need any further support this will be offered to you.

“We know that the NHS is under a lot of pressure due to the coronavirus pandemic but we’re working really hard to start making services available to you, and that you’re seen in a safe, low risk environment. The NHS is still here for you when you need us, so don’t leave your eye problem to chance as this can have a serious impact on your long-term eye health, and in some cases even sight loss.”

Watch this short video clip from Paul Appleson about CUES https://youtu.be/x0SBOhDhlm4

Remember for urgent eyecare problem, visit the following link to find your nearest CUES optometrist www.primaryeyecare.co.uk/find-a-practice. Or, ring your optician or GP, when your optician or GP is closed you can call NHS 111 (you can access NHS 111 online www.111.nhs.uk).


Notes to editor

Looking after your eyes

Visit the NHS website on how you can look after the general health of your eyes https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-body/look-after-your-eyes/

Accessing health services – keeping everyone safe

The NHS in Leeds is asking all patients to:

  • Wear a face covering. When attending appointments patients should wear a face mask or covering such as a homemade mask or scarf. All staff will also be wearing masks. There are some people who are unable to wear face coverings for health reasons, we will advise you what you need to do.  Children under three years old (or under seven in community health centres) will not need to wear a face covering.
  • Arrive on time.  All face-to-face appointments have been scheduled to minimise contact between patients so it is important that people don’t arrive too early to the clinic. Patients who arrive too early may be asked to leave and return at their allotted time.
  • Come by yourself. Patients should attend an appointment alone due to social distancing measures leading to reduced space in waiting areas. If you need help with walking, communicating, or have other care needs, then no more than one carer or family member who lives at same address should attend an appointment with you. If a carer needs to attend they too will need to follow advice such as wearing a face covering and practice social distancing.
  • Clean your hands. Good hand hygiene, including regularly washing hands with soap and water for 20 seconds can help reduce the spread of infection. People visiting hospital may also have their temperature checked on arrival. Most healthcare services will have hand sanitisers or handwashing facilities available.
  • Keep left and follow any instructions. Every effort has been made to facilitate social distancing – patients are being asked to keep their distance from other people when they are not in their appointment. Signs giving instructions are on display in all buildings.

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Issued by the communications team at NHS Leeds CCG. You can contact the team on 0113 84 35528 or 0113 84 35470. Alternatively, please email us: leedsccg.comms@nhs.net.