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Business & Profession Health Economics and Policy

Looking Beyond the Hospital Walls

The rising prevalence of eye disease is no secret. In the UK, where I’m based, it’s predicted that we’ll see an increase of 100,000 wet AMD cases in the 10 years to 2020, whereas the number of glaucoma cases will rise by almost 300,000 (1). Patients are already losing sight unnecessarily because of capacity problems in eye clinics (2), leading me to wonder what the situation will look like in another decade if nothing changes.

As demand heightens, so too does the level of funding required, yet the UK’s Department of Health budget is currently increasing by just 0.6 percent on average each year, compared to a historic average of approximately four percent since the NHS began (3). The wider picture forms a negative impact on the economy, with fewer resources to treat sight loss having an acute impact on productivity. In fact, lower employment participation of people with impaired vision and unpaid care accounts for £5.65 billion in costs to the UK economy, whilst the reduction in wellbeing and health of those patients totals £19.47 billion (4). To put this in perspective, the total cost of sight loss in the adult population of the UK was £28.1 billion in 2013, compared to £22 billion in 2008 (5).

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About the Author

Keith Austin

Austin is CEO of EMS Healthcare, Ellesmere Port, UK

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