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Nurse Practitioners at West of England Eye Unit reach 10,000 eye injection milestone


Nurse Practitioners at West of England Eye Unit reach 10,000 eye injection milestone A team of Nurse Practitioners at the West of England Eye Unit (WEEU) have reached an important milestone of 10,000 injections to treat patients with a chronic eye condition. The Exeter unit is the first in the country to have trained Nurse Practitioners to perform this type of eye surgery for patients with Wet macular degeneration, and the innovation has brought benefits for staff and patients.


Wet macular degeneration occurs when abnormal blood vessels leak into the retina and is a common cause of poor vision in the elderly.  The condition can be treated with the injection of a drug directly into the eye under local anaesthetic. This injection needs repeating regularly to sustain the effect, which was increasing the workload of the WEEU. 


In 2008 Consultant Eye Surgeon Mr Peter Simcock, trained Nurse Practitioner Brian Kingett to give the injections rather than the doctor. This was the first time that a Nurse Practitioner was able to perform this technique in the UK, and it has proved so successful that it has now been replicated in other eye units across the country. 


The WEEU, based at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital, now has a team of four Nurse Practitioners trained to provide the service. As well as increasing the amount of procedures they can perform, this has also helped to ensure continuity of care for patients and freed up theatres and medical staff for more complex operations.


Feedback from patients on the service has been excellent, and the team have recently seen the results of their work published in a prestigious medical journal called “Eye”, the Journal of the Royal College of Ophthalmologists.  Mr Simcock has also been recognised for his work in providing exceptional patient care with a nomination in the Macular Society’s Annual Awards for Excellence in both 2013 and 2014.


Consultant Eye Surgeon Mr Simcock said: “The West of England Eye Unit has always been at the forefront of innovation in eye care. It was the first unit in the country to provide Nurse Practitioners to deliver an injection service and we have recently passed this important milestone”.


“I was delighted and honoured to be nominated for the Macular Society award by my patients.  I always try to deliver the best possible treatments for my patients and I keep up to date with new developments. I am only part of a much larger team of nurses, optometrists, managers and other support workers at the WEEU and without doubt this nomination also reflects on their fantastic contribution to the care of patients with macular problems.”

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