A Rochdale optometrist has completed a qualification which could mean patients with eye problems may no longer need to attend hospital, easing the pressure on the NHS.

Faheem Sarfraz, of Paul Cheetham Eyecare in Rochdale town centre, has qualified with a Diploma in Independent Therapeutic Prescribing from the College of Optometrists.

Historically, when Optometrists find a problem with a patient’s eyes, following diagnosis they would then refer the patient to a local hospital who would prescribe the medication required to treat the problem.

But now qualified with the Diploma, Mr Sarfraz can prescribe almost any medication and therefore the patient may not even need to visit a hospital.

With an ageing population, there is an increasing demand for Ophthalmology (eyecare) appointments in hospitals around the country.

Mr Sarfraz said: “This is a huge leap forward, meaning we can clinically assess a patient, diagnose and prescribe where necessary, without even having to leave the practice.

“We always strive for the best for our patients and this care that we can now provide will only add to our service.

“If this can help to ease the pressure on Rochdale Infirmary, particularly as demand for eye appointments is currently so high, then it will be absolutely worth it.

“I’d encourage other Optometrists to follow suit, if only to try to guarantee our patients are receiving the best and most efficient eyecare possible.”