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Positive indications on ophthalmology waiting list backlog, but more to be done, say ophthalmologists

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists (RANZCO) says that there are indications from a number of district health boards (DHBs) that activities to clear the ophthalmology waiting list backlog are starting to have an impact.

“We have only seen recent data from a few of the 20 DHBs in New Zealand, but there are definitely positive indications,” said the Chair of RANZCO New Zealand Branch, Dr Brian Kent-Smith. “While the DHBs will receive the additional funding from government from May, they have been able to implement some changes in anticipation of that. Moves made by DHBs across the country to clear the backlog include increasing staff resources, providing weekend clinics and improving service coordination.

“Of course, while there are positive indications, we have to think in the longer term. While the historic backlogs are beginning to be cleared, there is a risk of the problem recurring as new patients are being added to waiting lists all the time. A one-off funding injection will help in the short term, but in the longer term a more strategic approach, which takes into account ongoing capacity, needs to be taken.

“The Ministry of Health commissioned a report looking at the model of care for people with age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and we expect that report to be published in the coming weeks. RANZCO has worked closely with the Ministry of Health; bodies such as Macular Degeneration New Zealand and EY, the report’s authors, in the development of this model. We expect the final report to provide a workable model for the early diagnosis, care and treatment of people with AMD. We look forward to continuing to work with government to ensure a smooth implementation of those recommendations and we hope that this strategic model of care can be adapted for other ophthalmic disease groups to create a sustainable approach to eye care across New Zealand.”

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists (RANZCO) is the medical college responsible for the training, examination and professional development of ophthalmologists in Australia and New Zealand. We seek to improve eye health across Australia and New Zealand, as well as further afield, by providing best quality education, training and continuing professional developments; by promoting eye health care and the work of ophthalmologists; and through collaboration with others involved in the delivery of eye health care.

For more information, please contact Emma Carr, General Manager of Communications, RANZCO, at or on +61 2 9690 1001.

Last updated: April 8, 2019

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