Patient Support service

Our support often begins at the hospital, right at the point of diagnosis. Our Patient Support Officers are based at Manchester Royal Eye Hospital (MREH) five days a week and Altrincham Hospital two days a week (Tuesday and Thursday).

When a person is diagnosed with an eye condition, it can be hard news to take in.

Our Patient Support Officers provide emotional and practical support right when people need it most. We offer:

  • Someone to talk to in confidence
  • A quiet meeting place in the hospital
  • Support during your appointment and a link with your consultant if you need to know more, or need something explained further
  • Medical information explained in a clear way that’s easy to understand
  • An opportunity to discuss your concerns
  • Information about practical help, advice on local services, equipment and benefits
  • Help with the registration process.
Image of Manchester Royal Eye Hospital

Your consultant, GP or social worker might refer you to our Patient Support Officers, but you don’t need to have a referral to access the service – it is open to all.

Gail demonstrating equipment

It is best to speak to a Patient Support Officer when you are at the hospital. If you would prefer, you can phone to make an appointment, or you can have a phone appointment from home.

During the COVID-19 restrictions, a face-to-face appointment may not be possible. However, we are still here to help and are available for phone appointments and enquiries.

To arrange an appointment or find out more please contact:

Phone Henshaws: 0300 222 5555
Phone Manchester Royal Eye Hospital (MREH): 0161 276 5515
Email: patientsupport@henshaws.org.uk

Our Patient Support Officers may be with someone when you call, so please leave a message and they will get back to you.

Frequently asked questions about our Patient Support service

Q. What is a Certificate of Vision Impairment (CVI) and how do I get one?

A. We have put together a handy guide to explain everything you need to know about the Certificate of Vision Impairment (CVI). You can read it here.

Q. How do I get a magnifier?

A. If you are a patient at the eye hospital and have been seen in the last 12 months you will be able to have a low vision assessment for magnifiers and other devices which may be useful to maximum any remaining vision you may have. You can ask your eye consultant to refer you to the low vision clinic. If you are no longer a patient at the eye hospital you can either ask your optician or GP to refer you back to the eye hospital for a low vision assessment. You can also contact us at Henshaws and we can have a chat about how to access a low vision assessment and also put you in touch with our the digital technology team.

Q. What services are available in my local area?

A. If you talk to our Patient Support Officers, they will go through all the services that may be available for you and put you in touch with one of our Enablement Officers who can go through all their services, such as the courses and groups in your local area. You can also contact our First Step team who will be more than happy to tell you about all the services available.

Q. I have an appointment at the eye hospital but I am finding it hard to get there; is there any help?

A. If you have a CVI and are registered as either sight impaired or severely sight impaired you will be able to access the Patient Transport Service to get you to and from your appointments. You can either ask your GP surgery or when you are at your appointment at the eye hospital and the staff will be able to book your transport for your next appointment. Even if you are not registered as SI or SSI you may still be eligible for patient transport based on your mobility needs. You can also contact us at Henshaws and we can look into whether you would meet the criteria for the patient transport and book it for you.

Q. I have noticed a change in my vision, what should I do?

A. We recommend that everyone has access to an optician (even if you are a patient at the eye hospital) as it is quick and easy for an optician to diagnose any change that may need urgent treatment.

If you notice that your vision has become worse very suddenly, the best thing we recommend is for you to contact your optician and let them know what your eye condition is, the change that you have noticed in your vision, and ask for an urgent appointment. If you don’t have an optician, you can ring one and they will be able to see you (use the NHS website to find your nearest optician).

The optician has all the equipment needed to determine if you need to be seen urgently at the eye hospital, and within Greater Manchester all opticians have a direct referral route into the local eye hospitals and are able to send over images and information which will be reviewed by the eye hospital urgently. The eye hospital will then contact you directly to arrange an urgent appointment with the clinic where appropriate.

Many eye conditions can change very quickly overnight, so the sooner you are seen by the optician the better so that an urgent appointment can be made. This is especially the case with eye conditions such as macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy.

Online support in our Knowledge Village

Our online resources including eBooks, videos and our blog provide free information on living with sight loss, so you can access our help and advice no matter where you are. These resources are useful if you or a family member are blind or visually impaired, or if you are a healthcare professional.

Watch this video explaining how to put your glaucoma eye drops in correctly – this is just a flavour of the online content we have available in our Knowledge Village.  Click on the link below to start exploring, from blogs about eye clinic appointments to videos about different eye conditions.

Visit the Knowledge Village

"We've got that safe space for people to come and talk to us that's away from the clinic. At the end of the day, everyone's emotions are so different so the key thing is we listen, we let them talk, and we take it from there."