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Another surprise result

Where does our unpredictable political arena leave optics?

15 Jun 2017 by John White

After seven weeks of electioneering that pointed towards a landslide victory for Theresa May, I woke up on Friday morning to see the pundits scratching their heads and saying: ‘We did not see that coming.’ Déjà vu, right?

One politician who lost their marginal seat was Ben Gummer. Tipped to be a future Health Secretary in the cabinet reshuffle that never was, Mr Gummer was by all accounts the author of the Conservative’s manifesto. 

Intriguingly for optics, as Under-Secretary for Health, in December 2015 Mr Gummer was also responsible for putting forward the Government’s commitment to reform the regulation of health and (in England) social care professionals. 

Highlighting the “need for some immediate reform in this area,” Mr Gummer explained that the priorities for reform were better regulation, autonomy and cost-effectiveness. He also noted the need to maintain and improve the focus on public protection, while offering reassurance that the Government remained committed to the principle of proportionate regulation of healthcare professionals.

Deprived of the whopping electoral mandate that seemed all but a given in April when the election was called, time will tell if the Conservative Government’s appetite for healthcare reform has been lost.

One case that has been foremost in the minds of optometrists in the last 12 months is Honey Rose, a locum optometrist who received a two-year suspended sentence after the death of her patient, eight-year-old Vincent Barker.

Having reported on the case day-by-day in OT, the complexity of the issues at stake is apparent, and this week the Court of Appeal has been reviewing the decision of gross negligence manslaughter. The Court’s judgement is expected later this month, so watch this space.

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