Khalid Mahmood, MP for Birmingham, Perry Barr, has visited independent practice Ian Hadfield Opticians to learn about the importance of regular sight tests in preventing avoidable sight loss.
The MP also met with representatives from Birmingham Local Optical Committee (LOC) to find out about the greater role that optical practices are playing in the county to deliver eye care that is above and beyond the standard sight test.
Following the visit, Mr Mahmood said: “People with sight loss issues rely on good community-based services. Currently there is not the equality of high-quality care services across all parts of the city to encourage early detection and treatment. The people of Birmingham deserve better.”
Community optometrists support the delivery of services at a local level. They could be utilised to manage low risk patients in the community, relieving pressure on hospital eye clinics and GP surgeries, as the secretary of Birmingham LOC, Ian Hadfield, and other representatives explained to the MP during the visit.
Mr Hadfield commented: “It was good to meet with Khalid and let him know about the postcode lottery that is faced by his constituents as some – those with a GP associated to the Sandwell and West Birmingham Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) – have full NHS-funded access to a range of additional eye care services provided by community optometrists, whilst others – those with a GP associated to Birmingham Cross City or Birmingham South and Central CCGs – do not.”
He added: “We were also able to discuss the impending communications nightmare that is about to seriously affect eye care services because the GPs and hospitals are about to switch off their fax machines leaving community optometrists with no means by which they can securely transmit referral information.
“Khalid was most concerned to hear about these problems and has offered to do anything he can to help to resolve them.”