Thank you dear Friends

It would be remiss to start an update on UHBW’s ophthalmology service without first expressing our immense gratitude to Friends of Bristol Eye Hospital. Their truly excellent support has enabled the purchase of medical equipment, resources for staff and patients, and contributions to fund new posts, none of which could have been provided otherwise.  All of us who work at BEH and its outreach sites consider ourselves very fortunate indeed to have the support of the Friends and the benefit of the funds they raise.  The donations and legacies they receive have such a positive impact on patient care and staff experience, and we are all so very grateful.

Activity & backlogs

The primary focus of our work in recent years has been to recover from the severe impact of the COVID-19 pandemic which dramatically increased the backlogs of patients waiting for our services. We have been working hard to get back to pre-COVID levels, to increase productivity and efficiency across many departments and to reduce workforce gaps.  All this has increased our surgical and outpatient activity which has substantially reduced our backlogs and consequently the waiting times for our patients to receive ophthalmic treatment and care.

In the past year we have successfully moved the Diagnostic Assessment Centre into a semi-permanent home within the Galleries shopping centre. This Centre has allowed us to deliver a high-volume service that helps to ensure appropriate monitoring and management of patients with long term conditions including Medical Retina and Glaucoma, which in turn releases precious capacity at  BEH to see patients with more complex conditions.


We have also been successful in filling a number of vacancies, both for consultant ophthalmologists and nurses.    I am pleased to confirm the appointment of the following consultants since spring 2023: Mr Omar Elhaddad (Cornea), Miss Sajeevika Amarakoon (Paediatric Ophthalmology) Dr Sarah Horton (Medical Ophthalmology), Miss Rachel Healy (Glaucoma), Miss Samantha Hunt (Oculoplastics), and most recently, Mr Oluwaniyi Eke (Medical Retina).  We are very fortunate to have them in the BEH team.  In addition, we are benefitting from the successful appointment of internationally trained nurses which means that the service now (in May 2024) has fewer vacancies for registered nurses than it has had for many years.

In addition to recruiting to fill vacancies, we have introduced some new roles to ensure that we have a robust, resilient and appropriately skilled workforce to face the challenges of the future. We are part of a national trial for Physician Associate roles in Ophthalmology (kindly supported by the Friends), and we are also training and introducing more advanced non-medical roles in Orthoptics, Optometry and Nursing.

Future projects

I have been keeping the trustees updated regarding our plans to refurbish BEH’s operating theatres and the project to refurbish the ground floor of BEH, which was last updated in the mid-1980s when the hospital was rebuilt. Both are exciting projects that will modernise BEH, but both are complicated.  We are working with colleagues across the organisation to progress both projects.  A strategic outline case is under development, but it is important to be realistic; this is still a few years away from becoming a reality, but we are developing a comprehensive case for the funding, and are beginning to think about the clinical models required should we be successful in our bid.  The BEH leadership team will ensure that the Friends’ trustees are kept abreast of these exciting developments, and indeed, we look forward to collaborating as these projects become a reality.

Mark Stevens, Assistant General Manager, on behalf of the BEH leadership team.

9 May 2024