I’m sure the recent communication about a proposed degree apprenticeship in optometry has not escaped your notice, and we have been very pleased with the level of engagement from members on this issue, as it has given us a clear steer on our approach.
The AOP’s positionIn light of the strong views we have heard from our members, I can confirm that the AOP will be opposing the introduction of degree apprenticeships for optometry.
Your contributions to the debate have raised good reasons to oppose the proposal, including the risks to patient safety, and the potential damage to the credibility of optometrists as key health professionals. Our consultation response, due by 9 December, will make those points powerfully, and we will be seeking follow-up meetings with the various bodies involved in the proposal to ensure our members’ views are heard and taken account of.
The debate has highlighted a few misunderstandings about our involvement in the apprenticeship trailblazer group, the process and the proposal itself and we have sought to correct these in Q&As published today.
We are your voiceSome of the comments we have received have touched on our union status and I would like to assure you that the AOP is the voice for the optometry profession. We invite and promote members’ views on policy issues, such as the current proposal.
We also provide advice, support and representation to individual members on employment issues, including trade union representation, as well as supporting members dealing with litigation and regulatory investigations.
Your involvement in our policy makingWe have sometimes found it difficult to obtain a lot of member input on policy issues in the past. Our last two Council meetings have, in part, been focused on how we can better engage members in the policy making process. Recent events demonstrate how helpful it us for us to have a wide range of members engaging with discussions on the online AOP community, as well as contributing via our Council.
We have elections for vacancies on AOP Council next spring and we would be delighted to see new faces putting themselves forward, and a much higher turnout in the Council elections.
Finally, thank you to all members that have taken the time to comment on the proposal. It is only when we hear your voices that we can truly represent you.
AOP Chief Executive