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Case study: Ophthalmology excellence

Changing the way ophthalmic services are delivered in the UK

Published: 21 Oct 2014

excellence in ophthalmology

Ophthalmology excellence

Client: Novartis

Agency: Watermeadow Medical Ltd

Campaign: Excellence in Ophthalmology

Timescale: February 2012 - July 2014

A quick look

The Excellence in Ophthalmology programme is an integrated non-promotional programme of needs-based medical education, training and support for UK ophthalmologists, scientists and allied healthcare professionals. It is now entering its third year and its continued success is helping to engage increasing numbers of the multidisciplinary ophthalmology community and to ensure that patients are receiving the care they need.

In 2013 the programme was the winner in the Excellence in Professional Education Programmes category at the Communiqué Awards. Judges said: “With a broad, multidisciplinary approach it took a central idea and enabled local behavioural change to take place within ophthalmology units.”

Future initiatives will continue to be developed in response to feedback from those using the programme in order to ensure that they receive the support they need to deliver enhanced  and expanded ophthalmology services in an ever-changing and increasingly pressured environment.


Ophthalmology services in the UK are under increasing pressure in the light of:

  • Growing patient numbers (eg, due to increased patient longevity/ageing population, new therapies)
  • The ongoing developments in care (eg, expanded screening targets, new guidance from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence)
  • The ever-changing NHS (eg, new commissioning processes, restrictions on trainee doctors)
  • A shortage of ophthalmologists.

As a result, it is necessary to look at changing the way ophthalmic services are delivered to ensure that all patients receive the care they need. Excellence in Ophthalmology was conceived as a way of providing needs-based support and education in order to help expand and enhance service in the UK.


Excellence in Ophthalmology was developed as a steering committee-driven, integrated, non-promotional programme of needs-based medical education, training and support for UK ophthalmologists, scientists and allied healthcare professionals. It has several objectives including:

  • Share knowledge, experience and best practice in the treatment of patients with ophthalmology needs and in the delivery of ophthalmology services
  • New, needs-based, educational and training initiatives to optimise ophthalmic care
  • Act as a link between consultants and allied healthcare professionals, promoting discussion and shared experience.

The Excellence in Ophthalmology programme was launched at a congress in 2012. During the congress, the rationale behind the programme was explained and the educational initiatives available were showcased. Attendees chose to prioritise a number of initiatives, all supported by a password-protected web portal, including:

  • The facilitation of opportunities to visit leading ophthalmology centres
  • The showcasing of innovative approaches for delivering ophthalmic services
  • A range of optometry courses and newsletters.


Approximately 30 needs-based educational and training initiatives have been developed and delivered as part of the Excellence in Ophthalmology™ programme; many of which have received very positive feedback.

Since the launch, an important cross section of the UK ophthalmic community has engaged with the programme including:

  • nearly 500 people who have attended the Excellence in Ophthalmology™ congresses
  • >1130 people who have registered on the Excellence in Ophthalmology™ portal
  • approaching 400 individuals have attended training courses.

Engagement continues to grow with each initiative serving to share experiences and create a dialogue between professionals as well as foster a greater understanding of the ever-changing NHS environment.

Client verdict

Usha Chakravarthy, Professor of Ophthalmology and Visual Services, Queens University Belfast, described how Excellence in Ophthalmology has benefited the ophthalmology community:

  • It has efficiently disseminated information to a wide range of stakeholders
  • It has provided a forum for sharing information in a multidisciplinary setting
  • It uses novel teaching and training methods in an informal setting
  • It has been beneficial to senior trainees by including topics that are extremely important, but often neglected, such as developing new services/business cases.

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