BRI Email Enquiry Service

Why BRI are launching an Email Enquiry Service?

The majority of Optometrist referrals for non-cataract non-glaucoma conditions are marked 'Please see within one month'. This time frame is unachievable for the hospital eye service. This causes anxiety for patients who do not receive an appointment within a few weeks and subsequently present to A&E, acute referral clinic or their GP.

As there are no slots on the electronic booking system for such short notice, GPs who receive a GOS notification for a soon appointment are creating paper referrals which take 12 days to process and are frequently duplicated via post and fax. The majority of community referrals can safely wait 12 weeks, but the HES appreciate that it is difficult to make that judgement sometimes.

BRI have launched a forum for Bradford and Airedale Optometrists to ask questions to improve patient experience, reassure Optometrists and reduce the burden on acute hospital services.

What information is needed in the email?

Please send the information you would normally send on a GOS referral (vision, refraction, IOP, Disc assessment, VF if appropriate etc). It is also useful for the HES to know if the patient attended for a routine eye examination or attended because they were having problems with their vision. Photos/ OCT scans are very usefuland can be sent as long as there are NO patient identifier details.

DO NOT SEND THE PATEINT's NAME or OTHER PERSONAL DETAILS. It is helpful to know gender and age.


What sort of cases would be suitable?

The service is NOT appropriate for urgent referrals or advice. Please telephone the acute referral clinic on 01274 364238 for advice.

It is also NOT suitable for WET AMD enquiries. These should continue to be sent to the macula service on 01274 365022.

The waiting time for a routine appointmentin the HES is around 12 weeks: BRI would be happy to give advice on whether a patient needs to be seen before this time if you are unsure.

If you see something you havn't seen before which is asymptomatic and are unsure what it is (example an unusual disc appearance, a retinal lesion which hasnt been documented before) then BRI can advise how soon it might need reviewing in the HES, if at all. BRI can give advice on whether a patient is eligible for sight impairment registration prior to referral. BRI can also redirect patients with dry eye symptoms to a MECS scheme or nurse led clinic.


Can I send Photos?

So long as there are no patient identifiers on the photos, Yes you can. For retinal lesions photos can be really helpful in deciding how soon and where the patient needs referring.


Do I need a secure NHS email address?

As long as you anonymise the patient details then you can email from any account. Do not include patient initials , date if birth or address. Make sure the email account you use is checked regularly.


How quickly will I get a reply?

BRI will aim to respond within 3 working days.


What should I do if I think the patient requires advice or assessment before then?

This service- Enquiry emails is suitable for routine referral advice only.


Should I refer the patient via fax or ask them to go to their GP while I wait for a reply?

In order to minimise any duplication of referrals, you should inform the patient that you will contact them with a decision from the HES regarding the location and timing of future appointments.


Do I have to discuss all potential referrals this way?

NOT AT ALL - In fact this system will not cope if BRI receive 100 referrals per week!. Please only use the email service if you are uncertain as to how quickly a patient needs to be seen or if they are are suitable for a different service.


What do I do if the patient is already under BRI Ophthalmology care and I want to find out if the patient is on the waiting list for a follow up appointment? Or perhaps just let the hospital know about a new finding?


Please write directly to the hospital and they will contact the patient. PLEASE MARK THE LETTER AS CORRESPONDENCE otherwise it will be converted to referral by the admin team. Alternatively, please contact the eye secretaries via switchboard (01274 542200) who will be able to deal with or pass on your enquiry.


If the patient is not appropriate for HES referral, what other options might be suggested?

You may be asked to refer the patient to the GP for management in the community, to refer to a referral refinement scheme, to a MECS service, for a telephone consultation or to review the patient annually in practice.


Who will contact the patient or GP to let them know what is happening?

Because the email will not contain any personal data, BRI will not be able to contact the patient. The reply email will contain clear advice regarding the next steps. e.g of next steps:

  • Refer on GOS via GP
  • Refer on fax to HES
  • Advise GO to refer to other service
  • Advise GP to commence treatment
  • No referral needed: review in practice