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20 November 2014

Bristol Eye Hospital sets up specialist eye treatment facilities from GP clinic in St Georges

A new service, the first of its kind in the region to offer specialist eye treatment outside a hospital setting, officially opens today (Thursday 20 November) at St Georges Medical Practice in St Georges, near Weston super Mare.

The service is run by staff from Bristol Eye Hospital (part of University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust), enabling patients with specific eye conditions such as wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and diabetic retinopathy to be treated closer to home.

Initial consultation and assessment will still take place at Bristol Eye Hospital, but patients can then attend follow up appointments for treatment and care at St Georges. Through an innovative partnership with the NHS, Novartis Pharmaceuticals (Novartis) is supporting the new service by providing funding for the essential diagnostic equipment required to run the service.

The same service was launched successfully out of South Bristol Community Hospital in March, and UH Bristol, with the support of Novartis, will further expand the programme into South Gloucestershire in 2015.

Clare Bailey, Consultant Ophthalmologist at Bristol Eye Hospital, said: "We are absolutely delighted to have set up these clinics in Weston Super Mare. There are many patients undergoing treatment for retinal disorders who need to attend monthly for their ongoing care. They can now be treated much closer to home, with assessment and treatment all performed on the same day.

"Expanding our services using outreach clinics has also allowed us to modernise our service, helping us to treat the increasing numbers of patients, whilst maintaining access to the specialist care that the Bristol Eye Hospital team provide."

Frederic Guerard, Managing Director United Kingdom and Ireland, Novartis Pharmaceuticals UK Ltd, said: "Today's launch is the result of a strong collaboration between Novartis and Bristol Eye Hospital. We all share the same dedication to the specialist care of people with eye conditions. These conditions can have a significant impact on patient quality of life if not appropriately treated and managed.

"We are proud to work with the NHS to identify solutions which address unmet clinical need and promote excellence in ophthalmology. This new service builds on the great work in eye care that has already taken place at Bristol Eye Hospital."

Dr Mary Backhouse, Chief Clinical Officer North Somerset CCG, said: "I am delighted to have this important service being delivered locally.  These are conditions that mainly affect older people and require repeated treatments. One of our aspirations as a Clinical Commissioning Group is where possible to have services delivered closer to where people live to help patients and their carers. It is good to have Novartis and UH Bristol working in partnership to do this."

Val Denton, Practice Manager at Worle & St Georges, said: "The team at St Georges surgery and Malling Health is extremely pleased to be working with Bristol Eye Hospital and their colleagues in this exciting new venture to bring patient care closer to home. It is hopefully going to be the start of co-working with other care providers to ensure our patients receive the best care possible without having to travel too far."