Outstanding Ophthalmology Nurse or Allied Health Professional

Ophthalmology clinics rely on nursing staff and allied health professionals, who continue to improve the treatment and care they provide for their patients. Outcomes, safety and experience are always the main focus, but it is also necessary to embrace the ever-growing need to adapt, develop and evolve clinical practice to meet the diverse expectations of patients, the public and policy makers. This honour recognises the critical role nurses and allied health professionals play within ophthalmic care and especially those who demonstrate excellence in all aspects of their role while making an outstanding contribution to patient experience.


Claire Saha
Deputy head of optical services
King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

Claire graduated as an orthoptist in 1999 and joined King’s College Hospital in 2002. Claire works across several different clinics including paediatrics and neuro-ophthalmology and is orthoptic lead within the pituitary MDT. Claire became Deputy head of optical services in 2012.

Honouree - Claire Saha - King's College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

Like other ophthalmology departments in the UK, King’s College is battling with huge demand. Claire identified £5.1M of potential income gains within ophthalmology through her high-level work on procedure codes, presented her findings to the board and this has now been taken up by the hospital directors, transforming the orthoptic department and raising the ophthalmology profile within the hospital.

Claire’s team enjoy learning from her and appreciate the advice and support she provides, and that she is always available. She has excellent leadership skills and works tirelessly to ensure the team of orthoptists, optometrists and photographers work well together. Claire makes a huge commitment to the NHS every day and always puts the safety and needs of patients first. She is also an excellent role model, and students regularly observe the value that orthoptists bring to the eye clinic. Her colleagues feel the department would not run without her.

Why this was chosen

“Claire’s contribution goes well above and beyond her role, both for her patients and for her Trust, making her a real ambassador. Her exceptional financial skills have helped her to make a significant difference, improving the service and allowing huge cost savings. Claire is also a very valuable team member, thanks to her commitment and leadership skills.”

Highly commended

Susan Donlevy and Lesley Malcolm
Specialist macula nurses
NHS Tayside

Susan and Lesley have been specialist macula nurses at Tayside for three years. They provide constant patient support, IVT injections, virtual clinics, outpatient reviews and counselling. Together, they deliver a consistent, high quality, compassionate service that patients constantly provide positive feedback on.

Highly commended - Susan Donlevy and Lesley Malcolm - NHS Tayside

As specialist nurses with close patient contact, Susan and Lesley’s understanding of patients’ needs, alongside their unfailing commitment, meant they were integral in a recent redesign of the macula service. This included the design, planning and construction of a new injection suite, a redesigned patient flow through the clinic to reduce time spent by patients in the outpatient department, and closer liaison with community visual impairment groups. In addition, patient preference for specialist nurses performing injections led to Susan and Lesley training three other specialist nurses with great success. The suite was officially opened in June 2018. The service has evolved and improved around the needs of the patients in the most practical way and users are delighted.

Susan and Lesley’s ownership and unfailing commitment to the improvement of the service is appreciated by the team and all macula patients in Tayside.

Why this was chosen

“Susan and Lesley have taken on an extended role to the advantage of their patients, their team and their Trust, and they deserve recognition for their organisation and leadership. Feedback from both patients and managers highlights the highly positive impact they are having on the success of the macula service, by improving patient care and efficiency.”

Highly commended

Sarah Queen
Consultant nurse and ophthalmology clinical director
South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust

Sarah joined the South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust (SWFT) in 2002 as a Band 2 Health Care Assistant (HCA) in Ophthalmology. She completed her nursing degree in 2007, and following a number of further qualifications and promotions within the Trust, was awarded the post of consultant nurse and ophthalmology clinical director in 2018. Sarah’s progression from HCA to her current post allows her to have insight into all roles within the team, which has proved invaluable in her tireless quest for service improvement.

Highly commended - Sarah Queen - South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust

Sarah was instrumental in improving the Trust’s Intravitreal Injection Service, which was placed on the Trust risk register in 2013 due to capacity issues. Sarah co-ordinated the training and development of a team of specialist nurse practitioners to increase capacity and improve patient outcomes. The capacity risk for this service has since been eliminated and this would not have been achieved without Sarah’s hard work and determination.

Sarah’s holistic and compassionate approach not only ensures quality care is delivered directly to patients, but that staff are also fully supported. Learning and development are embedded in the ophthalmology service culture and the admiration the team has for her is reflected in their positive attitude and motivation to succeed.

Why this was chosen

“Sarah’s impressive development and progression is a positive source of inspiration for her team. Sarah goes above and beyond her role both for staff and for patients, thanks to her passion, great leadership skills and open-door policy. Her contribution to the service redesign is invaluable.”

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