For detailed information on Community Services in South East London please visit This will give details of all participating practices. Information on the optometrist triage service is downloadable below with FAQs below that.

Download – How to refer to Optometrist Triage Service




Q: Who should be referred to the Optometrist Triage Service?

A: If you’re unsure whether your patient is suitable for the Minor Eye Conditions Scheme (MECS) or if you think they need to be seen by an eye care specialist in secondary care then you should refer them to the Optometrist Triage Service.

The only exclusion criteria are:

  • Patients who require a 2 week wait referral – these patients should be referred directly to the hospital of their choice; the referral should not be made to the Optometrist Triage Service.
  • Patients with significant pain, sudden loss of vision in one or both eyes or a penetrating injury – these patients should go directly to eye casualty or their nearest A&E.

Q: If I have a patient who I think is suitable for MECS, do I send them to the Optometrist Triage Service?

A: No, if you think your patient is suitable for MECS, please send them directly to MECS. You should only refer to the triage service if you’re unsure if your patient is suitable for MECS or if you think they need to be seen by a specialist in secondary care.

Q: What happens if we receive a letter from an optician asking us to refer to a specific secondary care clinic – should we refer the patient directly to hospital or should we refer to the Optometrist Triage Service?

A: You should still refer to the Optometrist Triage Service. It may be that the optician who has asked you to refer is not aware that there is a community service available that can best meet the patient’s needs.

Q: Why do we still receive letters from opticians asking us to refer patients to hospital?

A: You should not receive letters from MECS opticians asking you to refer a patient to hospital eye services as these providers can refer directly to secondary care. Occasionally you might receive a letter from a MECS opticians if they think the patient needs to be referred on to non-eye hospital services e.g. neurology.

For non-MECS opticians it is a little more complicated. Most non-MECS opticians do not have access to NHS mail or e-RS and so are unable to refer directly to hospital eye services or the Optometrist Triage Service. The Optometrist Triage Service is working closely with non-MECS opticians to get them on NHS mail. Unfortunately this process will take some time, and in the meantime these opticians will continue to send you letters asking you to make a referral.

Q: Will the Optometrist Triage Service monitor the quality of referrals, particularly those of opticians’?

A: Yes. As part of the triage process, the team will be monitoring the quality of referrals, and in particular, those triggered by opticians. The triage team will identify practitioners who could do with additional support and will actively engage with them to resolve any quality issues.

Q: If a patient doesn’t have a preference to be seen in a particular hospital but would rather be seen at the hospital where there is the shortest wait, how do we indicate that on the referral form?

A: In the ‘Patient choice of secondary care provider’ section there is a free text box where you can add patient preferences such as this. If the patient’s preferences haven’t been stated, the triage service will contact the patient and offer them a choice of providers.