Open Access Research article

Micro-costing the provision of emotional support and information in UK eye clinics

Hanna Gillespie-Gallery*, Ahalya Subramanian and Miriam L Conway

Author Affiliations

Division of Optometry and Visual Science, City University London, Northampton Square, London EC1V 0HB, UK

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BMC Health Services Research 2013, 13:482  doi:10.1186/1472-6963-13-482

Published: 19 November 2013

Abstract

Background

Sight loss has wide ranging implications for an individual in terms of education, employment, mobility and mental health. Therefore there is a need for information and support to be provided in eye clinics at the point of diagnosis of sight threatening conditions, but these aspects of care are often missing from clinics. To meet these needs, some clinics employ an Eye Clinic Liaison Officer (ECLO) but the position has yet to be widely implemented. The aims of this study were:

(1) To evaluate the forms of advice and emotional support in eye clinics provided by ECLOs.

(2) To determine the cost of the ECLO service per patient.

Methods

Micro-costing was carried out using interviews, a survey and administrative data. The survey was completed by 18 of the 49 accredited ECLOs in the UK (37%) and provided information on the activities performed by ECLOs, numbers of patients seen per day, training costs incurred and the salary of the ECLOs.

Results

ECLOs provided information about the services in eye clinics and the community, referral to social services, emotional support to patients and also other advice. The cost of an ECLO per patient per contact was £17.94 based on an average annual ECLO salary of £23,349.60 per year, reviewing on average 9.1 patients per day, in a 42 week year.

Conclusions

This study provides the first costing of support services in hospital eye clinics, providing a range of estimates to suit the circumstances of different clinics. The information can be used by local decision makers to estimate the cost of implementing an ECLO service.

Keywords:
Cost analysis; Micro-costing; Allied health personnel; Emotional support