Ireland has experienced and continues to experience signiﬁcant population growth. The total population is expected to increase by up to 28% between 2016 and 2026. The greatest increases are projected in the over 65 years age group. Increasing patient numbers and the growing incidence of chronic diseases are placing an enormous strain on the current model of eye care delivery. Even with the current population, waiting lists for ophthalmology outpatient appointments and inpatient procedures are among the longest and most numerous in the health service. The diagnosis and treatment of many chronic eye conditions is currently delivered in acute hospitals, whereas much of these interventions could be delivered in the primary care setting in a decentralised model.
The National Clinical Programme (NCP) for Ophthalmology has determined that in line with Government policies such as Future Health, the majority of services should be provided within the primary care setting. As such, integration of acute and primary care services is essential in order to allow for rebalancing of access and delivery of eye care services from acute hospitals to primary care. The aim is to provide high-quality, consistent, efficient and effective care. The development of a regionalised model appears to be the best means of achieving this aim.