Waiting times for cataract surgery are being reduced and outpatient assessment clinics increased, thanks to the efforts of our ophthalmology team and additional funding from the Scottish Government.

Over the past months, staff working in the Ophthalmology Department at Falkirk Community Hospital has been piloting what are known as Jack and Jill theatres – two theatres side by side running concurrently – for cataract operations. This allows surgeons to step swiftly from one theatre to another, increasing capacity and efficiency.

Supporting a second operating theatre to remain open helps deliver the equivalent of 8 extra operating sessions and enables an additional 8 cataract cases to be carried out every day or around 32 additional cases every week. Previously, around 12 cataract operations were carried out in a day but a surgeon working across two operating theatres can now do up to 20 cases in one day – which represents a 67% increase in activity.

To help meet keep pace with rising demand, activity in outpatient clinics is also set to increase from 10 patients a clinic to 21 patients. This will involve reconfiguring the existing clinic space at Falkirk Community Hospital, where the majority of cataract operations in Forth Valley are carried out, as well as recruiting and training additional staff.

NHS Forth Valley Consultant Opthalmologist, Dr Paul Flavahan, said “This additional investment in local ophthalmology services is great news. It has allowed us to be really innovative and our team is working extremely hard to tackle the backlog of operations that have built up due to Covid-19 pandemic.”

The upgrading of operating theatres used for ophthalmology procedures is due to continue over the next two years and will enable an additional weekly 32 cataract surgery operations and 55 additional outpatient assessments to take each week.