Shadow Health Minister visits Bristol practice

The visit from the MP for Bristol South, Karin Smyth, was an opportunity to highlight the role of optometrists and practice teams

A group of professionals pose outside of Specsavers Kingswood including the Shadow Health Secretary, Karin Smyth, optometrist and director of the practice, Neil Foster, and Specsavers clinical services director, Giles Edmonds

The Shadow Health Minister, Karin Smyth, visited Specsavers Kingswood in Bristol on 26 January, exploring the benefits of eye care in the community.

Speaking at the Institute for Government’s annual conference last month, Smyth said that, if elected to government, the Labour Party would seek to negotiate with High Street optometrists to enable the delivery of NHS outpatient appointments.

Highlighting backlogs in outpatient appointments, the Labour MP for Bristol South highlighted the skills of optometrists working in High Street practices.

“With more than half a million people waiting for eye care in England, patients are at risk of losing their eyesight,” Smyth said.

Practices such as Specsavers Kingswood, “will be at the centre of Labour’s plans to beat the backlog,” Smyth continued.

She suggested that enabling High Street optometrists to deliver more routine appointments in the community would allow patients to be seen faster.

Neil Foster, optometry director at Specsavers Kingswood, spoke to the shadow minister about how primary care clinicians are already making a difference.

“I spoke to her about the benefits of community-based post-cataract schemes for patients, as well as about OCT use for referral refinement and Wet AMD and swollen discs in a newly commissioned scheme in Bristol,” he said.

Specsavers suggested the visit was an opportunity to highlight the role of optometrists and practice teams.

Giles Edmonds, Specsavers clinical services director, said: “It was great to welcome Ms Smyth to Specsavers Kingswood to see how our expert clinicians deliver vital care daily as part of our mission to change lives through better sight and hearing.”

“NHS primary care optometrists are also ready and able to do more in providing more accessible and convenient care, partnering with NHS secondary care colleagues,” he continued, emphasising Specsavers’ commitment to engage parliamentarians in this message.

Pictured: Neil Foster, optometrist and director of Specsavers Kingswood, Shadow Health Secretary Karin Smyth, Giles Edmonds, Specsavers clinical services director, Susan Dyer, optical assistant, Damien Green, Labour candidate for Bristol Kingswood, Adam McGregor, practice manager, and Stephen McAndrew, Specsavers director of NHS services.