Primary School Students help local hospital promote Eye Clinic Appointments

On Tuesday 12 February, representatives from Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals (DBTH) visited a local school, to stress the importance of attending eye appointments.

The Trust’s Ophthalmology team – who deal with the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of diseases affecting the visual system – delivered this interactive session to the students of Grange Lane Infant Academy. Not only did they give an educational talk to the class, but they also organised a series of rotating workshops and, to cap it all off, a poster competition with a special grand prize.

The purpose of the visit was to raise awareness about the valuable service that the eye clinic provides to the public, as well as to highlight the impact that not attending an appointment can have on the NHS.

Speaking about this, Mr Ian Dawson, Head of Orthoptic services at DBTH, said: ‘’It’s crucial that we reach out to children about this at an early age. At their stage in life, eyes are still developing and we need to ensure that they are properly looked after. By coming in to see the students, showing them what we do, and reassuring them that there’s nothing to be afraid of, we hope that we can encourage them to speak with their parents, so that they don’t miss their appointments.’’

Over the course of the day, the Year 1 pupils were given hands-on time with different Ophthalmology tools, had the chance to examine a contact lens up close, and even met Isaac the artificial Eye model, all whilst being supplied with fun facts and trivia from the experts. They were also given an idea as to how much money is lost each year at the Trust, owing to people not attending their eye appointments.

Having come to grips with all of the different things that the eye clinic does, the pupils were then tasked with creating a poster that could be used to spread the message further. The plan is for these to be displayed in the clinic itself and to be included in appointment letters going forward, meaning that everyone will be able to see their hard work and imagination.

Keen to give the class a chance to show off their creative side, the team waited two weeks before returning to see what they had come up with and to judge the best. The children did not disappoint, producing 46 eye-catching posters that clearly articulate the importance of attending eye clinic. In fact, the competition was so fierce that it was rather difficult to pick a winner. In the end however, the prize- a Harry PotterLego Set, sponsored by Healthwatch Doncaster- was awarded to Enya Bewick for her incredible design (pictured). Still, no one went home empty handed; as the team had plenty of goodies for the kids including stickers, pencils and more.

Claire Jenkinson, Deputy Chief Operating Officer at DBTH and poster judge, said: ‘’We are so impressed with the work that Grange Lane have done for us and can’t wait to start displaying it around the hospital. Missed appointments cost the NHS a great deal of money every year and these brilliant students have clearly understood that message. With the help of their colourful and inventive artwork, we hope to raise awareness of this amongst other families around the region.’’

Having been arranged in collaboration with colleagues from across the local area, including Doncaster CCG and Healthwatch Doncaster, the event tied into the ongoing NHS 100 day challenge. This is a scheme that is all about driving positive change within healthcare, by revising current processes and increasing efficiency. The current 100-day Improvement Challenge is focussing on Ophthalmology, Spinal and Fibromyalgia and builds on the excellent work of the previous programme that looked at Urology, Cardiology and ENT.

Andrew Goodall, Chief Operating Officer at Healthwatch Doncaster, said: “The 100-day Improvement Challenge has worked with children and young people to ensure that their voices and their ideas are being listened to and acted on to make improvements to local Ophthalmology services. It is a great example of how young people can get involved and influence a change in health care.”

On a related note, a 100 day challenge event took place today in Doncaster to reflect on some of the work that has taken place so far to improve patient care. You can follow the discussion on Twitter using the hashtag #100daychallengedon.