Trends within the optometry workforce were on the agenda at the final AOP Council meeting for 2017 (25 October, London).
Policy committee chair, Dr Julie-Anne Little, spoke to councillors about planned AOP research into workforce trends.
She highlighted some of the key trends in recent years, including a rise in the number of optometrists working as locums and difficulties recruiting optometrists in some areas.
Dr Little also mentioned an increase in the number of institutions offering optometry courses. Despite this, employability levels continue to compare well to other fields.
Councillors were asked for their feedback on the key questions that the AOP might ask as part of the workforce survey and also the form that the research could take.
Councillors discussed the benefits and challenges of the increasing prevalence of optical coherence tomography (OCT) at the meeting.
Issues raised included the impact of increasing OCT use on hospital referrals and the implications for the training and education of optometrists.
One councillor emphasised the importance of teaching students the reasoning behind why the technology is being used.
“We have to be careful not to train in specifics while failing to teach principles. I think that should be part of our drive with the Education Strategic Review – we should push for optometrists to remain scientists and not button pushers,” he highlighted.
AOP academic councillor, Will Holmes, updated councillors on the General Optical Council’s (GOC) review of Continuing Education and Training (CET).
Flaws of the current CET system raised by councillors at the meeting included that it is perceived as repetitive, inflexible and it is more difficult to complete in remote areas.
However, positive aspects were also highlighted, including that it is easy to track progress, there is a high level of quality assurance and clear expectations of the standards that need to be met.
Feedback was received from councillors regarding draft member guidance on refractive surgery and an AOP position paper on coloured filters for visual discomfort.
Councillors discussed 100% Optical and domiciliary eye care in two separate workshop groups.
The next AOP Council meeting will be held on 14 March at the AOP’s London offices.