Quality and Value

Focus on: cataracts

Welcome to the NHS Institute's cataracts team website.


The aim of the Focus on: cataracts document is to help local health communities Optham1302resize.jpgand organisations improve the quality and value of care for cataract patients. It contains the key characteristics for a high performing, quality cataract service, along with case studies and measures for improvement.

Cataract surgery is now the most common surgical procedure undertaken in England, with around 300,000 operations performed annually in the NHS. With increasing life expectancy and an expanding elderly population, the incidence of cataract and therefore the demand for surgery continues to rise.

Due to the high volume of cataract activity, any improvements in quality and efficiency will have huge benefits to patients, ophthalmology units and acute trusts.

The Department of Health’s Action on Cataracts publication and the Royal College of Ophthalmologists’ Cataract Surgery Guidelines have greatly assisted ophthalmology units improving quality and standards for cataract patients. However, from our recent observations, there is still a marked variation in the way cataract care is delivered across the country, with many units identifying potential areas for improvement in their existing pathway.

Generic LA cataract consent form

Download this new generic cataract consent form (MS Word format) to adapt and make your own.

What are the benefits? 

  • Standardised information: Handwritten forms mean patients are signing forms with different information for the same operation. This form will ensure that all cataract patients are receiving the same information on risks of cataract surgery.
  • Authoritative information: By providing patients with the exact information from the Royal College guidelines before asking them to sign the form, your organisation may be better positioned to defend claims arising from very rare complications.
  • Legible information: Potential claims arising from poor handwriting of surgical risks on the consent form will no longer be possible. Furthermore, under the Mental Capacity Act 2005, it is the responsibility of the person taking the consent for the patient to have information provided to them in a format that they are able to use and understand, which becomes more likely as information is switched from being handwritten to being printed.
  • More time to explain the information: With the risks of surgery already printed legibly on the form, the doctor obtaining consent is free to spend more of the consultation time actually counselling the patient about those risks, and answering any questions that they may have prior to signing.


cataracts1.jpgIn developing Focus on: Cataracts we have worked closely with NHS ophthalmology units to identify the key characteristics of high quality and efficient care for cataract patients. These key characteristics are based on our observations of best practice adopted by ophthalmology teams across England. It is intended to help anyone involved in the cataract pathway improve their service and reduce variation in practice.

Read the report: Focus on: cataracts

Find out more

email: cataracts@institute.nhs.uk *

* Please note that the NHS Institute is an innovation and improvement organisation and is unable to give medical advice to patients or their carers.


Listen to an interview with Mr Mike Tappin about cataracts.


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