Your RP patient will clearly understand that his or her consultant is the key healthcare professional dealing with the RP. However a few simple steps from a GP and his/her surgery team can make all the difference to the way the condition impacts on the life of your patient.
- Take the trouble to learn a little about the condition and to understand the current level of visual impairment in your patient
- Ensure that referrals are readily made to appropriate specialists, not just ophthalmologists but geneticists, counsellors, testing services, and others as appropriate
- Keep abreast of technical and research developments, for example, the advent of high throughput DNA sequencing has made genetic testing for RP readily available and is commissionable by you or your NHS Trust.
- Ensure that your surgery services are fully accessible to people with a visual impairment or who are blind, that your receptionist and other staff know about the appointment, and that they are trained and courteous in giving assistance.
- Provide information clearly by voice as well as in writing, for example by reading the contents of a prescription document out loud as you hand it across.
- Communicate with and respond to communications from the ophthalmologist promptly.
- Remember that the fact that RP is a progressive condition means that every time you meet your patient he or she may have faced another loss, this can be distressing and further support services may be required.
- Refer your patient to RP Fighting Blindness and other supporting groups or charities.