AOP publishes response to consultation on planned Welsh reforms

The membership organisation has published its response to a Welsh Government consultation on the reform of primary eye care

A hand holding a pen completes a survey form
Pixabay/Andreas Breitling

The AOP has published its response to a consultation by the Welsh Government on a series of planned reforms for primary eye care in Wales.

The response takes into account a broad range of member engagement completed by the association, including a member survey, virtual and in-person workshops with Welsh members, AOP Council Committee feedback and sector body meetings.

A member survey issued by the AOP received 152 responses – equivalent to one in five optometrists practising in Wales.

When asked if the planned reforms would improve access to eye care in Wales, 43% said yes, 20% said no and 37% said partially.

In response to a question about whether changes would reduce pressure on secondary care, close to half (47%) said yes, 20% said no and 33% were unsure.

There was uncertainty over the financial impact of the changes. When asked whether the proposals would impact positively or negative on practice finances, 24% replied that there would be a positive impact, 30% said there would be negative impact and the remaining 46% were unsure of the financial impact.

As part of the survey, AOP members were asked about how the proposals would affect domiciliary providers – with a cut to the visiting fee from £38.27 to £26 faced by many practitioners.

Of those surveyed, close to four in 10 (37%) said that it would be considerably or somewhat harder to provide domiciliary services under the planned changes, 45% said it would be about the same and 18% said providing domiciliary services would be somewhat easier or considerably easier.

AOP chief executive, Adam Sampson, thanked members practising in Wales for taking part in the survey.

“There is much in the proposals we welcome, not least the increased funding for GOS sight tests. But we believe areas of concern need to be addressed urgently, and this view has only been reinforced by our engagement with members,” he said.

Sampson added that domiciliary care and low vision were areas of particular concern highlighted by members.