New support for sight loss patients at county hospitals

Patients who are losing their sight are now getting emotional and practical support from two new advisers working in Lincolnshire’s hospitals.

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The eye clinic liaison officers (ECLOs) have recently started work across Lincoln County Hospital, Pilgrim Hospital in Boston and Grantham and District Hospital, to support patients who have sight loss.

The posts have been established jointly between sight loss charity RNIB and Lincoln and Lindsey Blind Society, United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust (ULHT) and NHS England.

ECLOs, also known as sight loss advisers, work alongside health professionals, offering help and advice on a range of areas including independent living, returning to work, benefit entitlements, offering advice on coping at home, and emotional support.

Gareth Davies, RNIB’s area operations manager for central England, said: “It can be an overwhelming experience to be told you are going to lose your sight. That feeling is compounded if people have to deal with it alone. ECLOs provide much needed information, advice and guidance.”

Clinical Director of Ophthalmology at ULHT, Mohit Gupta, said: “This is a service we have been wanting for a long time to help patients in Lincolnshire.

“Both members of staff will play a vital role in helping patients who have problems with their eyes to get in contact with the appropriate services to help with their needs. This will also enable the medical staff to improve the quality of care for their patients and improve patient experience in Lincolnshire.”

Andrew Pinder is the new ECLO for the South of Lincolnshire. He said: “Our role is about supporting patients using our eye clinics and referring them on to further services in the community that may be able to help them.

“We are building up a network of contacts and information to share with our patients, which varies from information about certain conditions, support networks and available equipment which may help them, to information on how to get a disabled blue badge.

“Patients can be referred to us from the clinics, or contact us directly if they want help and support.”

Rachel Newton, the ECLO for the north of county, said: “I was previously an assistant practitioner in the eye clinic at Lincoln, and I really saw the need for someone to provide that support and advice to patients after diagnosis.

“It’s fantastic to be able to give support to our patients, carers and families, and to be able to direct them to services which can help them further,” she said.

To contact Andrew Pinder, eye clinic liaison officer for South Lincolnshire, call 01205 446292 or 07715 602552 or email [email protected]

To contact Rachel Newton, eye clinical liaison officer for North Lincolnshire, call 07715 602556 or email [email protected]