Future Healthcare

Boom for eye surgeons

By Robin Stride

The best ‘young’ eye surgeons in private practice can expect a rising tide of patients for many years to come due to severe shortages in the specialty and the growing number of the elderly. 

A Royal College of Ophthal­m­ologists (RCOphth) census warns of recruitment and workforce planning gaps amid a predicted 40% increase in NHS demand over the next 20 years.

It says over the next two years an extra 230 NHS consultant and 204 staff and associate specialist (SAS) posts are needed.

Around seven in ten hospital eye units use locums to fill consultant posts, 85% run waiting list initiatives to try to manage demand, and one in four of the current work­force is nearing retirement.

Morale among doctors working in an ever-stretched NHS is clearly very low and demand cannot be satisfied with the number of surgeons coming through, according to leading consultant ophthalmic surgeon Mr Stephen Lash.