Agenda item

Children's Vision Screening Pathway


The Commissioning Delivery Manager, NHS Darlington CCG submitted a briefing paper to inform Members of Darlington CCG’s change to the school vision screening pathway, commencing 3 September 2018.


Members were informed that the Children’s Vision Screening Pathway, which is commissioned by Darlington Borough Council as part of the 0-19 service provided by Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust, is to change on 3 September 2018 following a review of the current pathway.  The review highlighted that 11 per cent of Darlington reception aged children were referred to hospital eye service orthoptists for further management following failed vision screening and that a significant number of those referrals were not necessary.

It was stated that children who currently fail vision screening have suspected amblyopia (lazy eye) or are considered to have other pathology, for example, squint and are referred to hospital eye services for further management.  Onward referral costs are subsequently picked up by the respective CCG for which the child has a registered GP practice.

We noted that health commissioners have worked closely with colleagues from the Council, Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust and the Local Optical Committee (LOC) to review the current pathway which was contributing towards the overall increasing number of referrals to hospital eye services.  Darlington CCG has subsequently agreed to commission a Children’s Community Optometry Service which will eliminate the requirement for onward referral to hospital services for failed vision screening or suspected amblyopia.

Children who have failed vision screening or suspected amblyopia will now have their care delivered by a community optical practice at a time and place suitable for the child and parent/guardian to attend.  This includes weekends which ensures that children are not taken out of school and parents/guardians need not necessarily take time off work to attend appointments with their children.

Introduction of this new community service will make the best use of public funds, ensuring the health care needs of local children are met; and reducing health inequalities by delivering a clinically effective quality service close to home.  Capacity will also be created at hospital eye services enabling the Ophthalmology Team to manage those children with more complex pathology.


Members were informed that there were currently six practices within Darlington and 50 practices overall within Darlington and County Durham that offered the service.

A similar service is working well in neighbouring CCG areas and ensures that children attending a Durham school and registered with a Darlington GP will not experience cross border issues.


Discussion and challenge ensued on which practices offered the service in Darlington as it was felt that some were not very co-operative at offering week-end appointments for children.  The CCG representative assured Members that this would be addressed as children should have access at all times.


The Director of Public Health welcomed the change to the pathway as NHS England had recently published the Healthy Child Programme.


RESOLVED – (a) That the report be noted.


(b) That the change in the Children’s Vision Screening Pathway be welcomed.