Public eye treatment and surgery returns to Wide Bay

by Ted Sorensen
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Public eye treatment and surgery returns to Wide Bay

WIDE Bay Hospital and Health Service has secured funding to reintroduce locally provided ophthalmology services across the Wide Bay region.

The breakthrough will see ophthalmology services being provided in Hervey Bay and Bundaberg through a public-private partnership.

The WBHHS has entered into a public-private partnership with CQ Eye under the terms of which the company will be paid to deliver eye treatment through its surgeries in Bundaberg and Hervey Bay.

WBHHS chief executive Adrian Pennington said from December 1 the WBHHS will accept ophthalmology referrals from general practice and manage the referrals through to CQ Eye.

“We have negotiated the funds from the Health Department so people in Wide Bay can now begin to make arrangements to get ophthalmology services locally,” Mr Pennington said.

“For an extended period, people in need of eye surgery have had to travel to larger centres. In our Strategic Plan 2014-2017 "Improving health together" we made a commitment to our community to extend the range of services providing care closer to the home. This is a significant development.

“The agreement will see up to 350 patients treated before June 30, 2015 and provide for up to 1000 patients a year."

In the WBHHS Strategic Plan 2014-2017, bringing specialist services such as ophthalmology back to the Wide Bay was a key objective.

Wide Bay Hospital and Health Board Chair Dominic Devine said early planning had permitted the WBHHS to move quickly to take advantage of the State Government’s October 20 funding announcement

“We already have public-private partnerships in place for cardiology and radiation oncology so we understand how to set up these strategic relationships,” Mr Devine said.

“The Board is committed to developing a sustainable ophthalmology service and it is an important undertaking given our older demographic.”

Mr Pennington said the first phase of the partnership with CQ Eye would see ophthalmology services publicly funded for 18 months. This service is now a permanent feature of health within the Wide Bay and will be reviewed and extended as all other private partnership agreements.

The WBHHS would then review activity and efficiency with the aim of establishing the best model for a permanent service.

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