The Association of Optometrists (AOP) is calling for a halt to the current proposal for optometry degree apprenticeships until the profession’s serious concerns are addressed.
Skills for Health recently released a Q&A document saying the trailblazer group would continue work on the proposal. The AOP contacted the group, Skills for Health and the Institute for Apprenticeships in late January – arguing that development should stop until strong concerns over patient safety and confidence in the profession, raised by many in the sector, are fully addressed.
The AOP pointed out that a proposal for a degree apprenticeship in pharmacy has been halted twice to allow for proper stakeholder engagement, and that optometry deserved the same consideration. We have received no response from the trailblazer group or the other organisations involved.
AOP Clinical Director, Dr Peter Hampson said: “We continue to be deeply concerned over the optometry apprenticeship proposal. We are even more concerned that those involved in its development seem to be ploughing on without properly addressing the issues that are being raised by many optometrists. There are a range of reasons to oppose the current proposal but above all the risk it poses to patient safety and confidence remains key – we’re very disappointed that these concerns have been met with silence.”
The AOP was the first major optical body to oppose the degree apprenticeship – drawing on member feedback to build a case against the proposal as part of its consultation response in December 2019. Since then, the AOP has been working with other stakeholders, including current education providers, to explore the key issues around student supervision and quality assurance. It is clear that these are already challenges under the current education system, and that the difficulties would be amplified if a degree apprenticeship was introduced.
The AOP is asking members who have had problems with supervision in an optical practice under the current education system - whether as an undergraduate or pre-reg student, or as a registrant who’s been asked to supervise a student - to share their experiences. AOP members can email the AOP policy team, firstname.lastname@example.org or discuss in the AOP Community forum.
For more information, please contact Serena Box, PR and Media Manager, at the Association of Optometrists, email@example.com or telephone 020 7549 2040.
Notes to Editors
Association of Optometrists
The Association of Optometrists (AOP) is the leading representative membership organisation for optometrists in the UK. We support over 82% of practising optometrists, to fulfil their professional roles to protect the nation’s eye health. For more information, visit www.aop.org.uk