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The workshop

Helping to shape the AOP’s thinking

OT  poses a monthly scenario from a practitioner. This month, we look at the work of the AOP’s policy team and committee with the Association’s policy officer Saqib Ahmad

07 Sep 2019 by Saqib Ahmad

The scenario

Malcolm, AOP member
“I am an optometrist in the North West of England, where I work part-time in an independent practice and part time in the local eye hospital. I’m interested in the challenges facing our profession and feel that I have insight to share from my work in a variety of settings. However, I don’t really know how to share my thoughts in a way that will make a difference. Can you advise?”

The advice

Saqib Ahmad, AOP policy officer
The AOP has a policy team and policy committee that coordinates the development of the AOP’s views on key topics. They ensure the AOP responds to all relevant consultations that will impact on the profession. They also lead on influencing decision-makers and people outside the optical sector, including through a range of position statements. These are credible, authoritative papers that set out the changes we think need to be made so that optometry can thrive and adapt to future challenges. We regularly seek out members’ views to help inform our responses to consultations and our thinking around the future of the profession.

Our Council

The AOP Council is made up of 25 elected members who represent different parts of the UK and eight who are appointed to designated posts, representing members in various stages of their careers and in different modes of practice. A key role of Council is to help members communicate with the AOP, whether directly via our online community forums, or by providing feedback at Council meetings, which take place three times a year.

Engaging with your local Councillor, or the designated Councillor who represents your interests, whether that’s a pre-reg optometrist or a franchisee optometrist, is a great way to feed in your opinions to the AOP. The next elections and appointments process for Council will take place in March and April 2020. We encourage applications from all members interested in sharing their insights about the profession to help us meet future challenges and support our members. You can find more information about this on our website.

“Members can promote and share our manifesto on social media with the hashtag #ManifestoForEyecare to ensure it is seen by a wide audience”


Our manifesto

We recently launched our first-ever manifesto, Fighting for Change, which sets out the key changes we are fighting for in the interest of our members, their patients and the public. Members can promote and share our manifesto on social media with the hashtag #ManifestoForEyecare to ensure it is seen by a wide audience. We also encourage members to use our guide to lobbying your local MP, which provides advice on writing to MPs and arranging for them to visit a local optical practice. Practice visits are a great opportunity to educate MPs about the work you do and to raise issues affecting the profession, such as those outlined in the manifesto.

“Practice visits are a great opportunity to educate MPs about the work you do and to raise issues affecting the profession, such as those outlined in the manifesto”


Forums and emails

When a new consultation will have a major impact on the profession, we encourage members to share their thoughts on it via our community forum. A recent example of this was the General Optical Council’s consultation on its draft standards and learning outcomes – part of the Education Strategic Review. We held workshops with representatives of different groups of members including students, lecturers and hospital optometrists, and many more members contributed to a lively, thoughtful forum debate on the consultation.

Capturing the views of so many of our members meant we were able to submit an authoritative and detailed response.

We promote these important opportunities to contribute through AOP emails to members, which we also use to let you know about new position statements, guidance and developments in the profession.

Members who want to feedback directly to the policy team, or raise a new issue, can contact the team any time via email.

If you are not receiving any AOP emails that you wish to, please visit our online preference centre by logging into to our website and visiting your MyAOP to amend your preferences.

Image credit: Getty/Mikos

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