People with eye conditions in North Devon and Torridge will benefit from reduced waiting times and access to state-of-the-art equipment when a new Ophthalmology Hub at South Molton Community Hospital opens this year.
The former renal unit at the hospital will be redeveloped to create the new £1.25m facility.
The hub will provide diagnostic services and treatments for people with new eye problems and people managing long-term conditions, such as glaucoma and medical retina conditions.
The hub in South Molton will increase the much-needed capacity of the ophthalmology (eye) services provided in Northern Devon by the Royal Devon University Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust. This will complement and reinforce the specialist services and ophthalmic treatments currently provided across our existing sites at Bideford Community Hospital and North Devon District Hospital.
This additional capacity will not only contribute to diagnostics and treatments being carried out, helping to provide a more positive and efficient patient experience, but it will also significantly reduce the backlogs caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and, in turn, result in shorter waiting times.
Dr Liz Wilkinson, Ophthalmology Consultant at the Royal Devon, said: “This is fantastic news for our patients. Not only will it enable us to reduce waiting times that have lengthened with the pandemic, and so lowering the risk of people’s eye conditions getting worse, but it will also allow us to deliver the very latest eye care here in Northern Devon.
“We are immensely grateful to the South Molton Hospital League of Friends, whose generous donation and unwavering support has made this possible.”
The new hub is being part-funded by the hospital’s League of Friends, who have generously donated £500,000 towards the project.
David Goodman, Chairman of the South Molton Hospital League of Friends, said: “When the renal unit at South Molton Hospital was built several years ago, the money to provide it was donated by the people of South Molton and surrounding parishes. When the unit closed and moved to Barnstaple, the League of Friends began discussing with the Trust how best this building could be used to provide health facilities to the people from South Molton and surrounding areas.
“Local people have been very generous over the past years and supported the League of Friends, which meant we had a substantial amount of money in our bank account, so we were delighted to offer the Trust a donation of £500,000 towards the cost of this ophthalmology unit, which will mean that local people with eye conditions will not have to travel to Barnstaple Hospital for check-ups. We feel that the facilities provided by the new unit will be the best use of this redundant building.”
The unit will have the potential to provide 50 appointments per session, significantly increasing the capacity within the ophthalmology service.
The Royal Devon is covering the remaining setup and ongoing running costs, including the recruitment and training of new staff for the hub. Job opportunities will be advertised in the coming months.
It is hoped that the new ophthalmology unit will be up and running later this year.
Picture caption: Dr Liz Wilkinson, Opthalmology Consultant, receives the cheque for £500,000 from David Goodman, Chairman of the South Molton Hospital League of Friends, watched by members of the League of Friends and representatives of the Royal Devon University Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust.
Last updated: June 29, 2022