General election 2024

Primary eye care bodies reach out to new government on eye health

The AOP, FODO and ABDO have again emphasised optometry’s role in helping to cut NHS waiting lists and prevent avoidable sight loss

Studio shot of a mature businessman wearing glasses and using a mobile phone while waiting for an appointment
Getty/katleho Seisa

The AOP has joined other primary eye care sector bodies in reaffirming optometry’s role in cutting NHS waiting lists.

Alongside the Federation of of Optometrists and Dispensing Opticians (FODO) and the Association of British Dispensing Opticians (ABDO), the AOP has reached out to the new government to follow up on its pre-election and manifesto commitments to work with primary eye care to tackle long hospital ophthalmology waiting times and prevent avoidable sight loss.  

The organisations emphasised that it is “time to end avoidable sight loss due to delays in care.”

“We will work with new ministers and NHS leadership to deliver commitments made on the campaign trail and in the manifesto,” the group said.

Ahead of its victory in last week’s general election, the Labour party had committed to “improving access to services and treatment through new routes” and allowing optometrists to directly refer into specialised services where appropriate.

The commitments were made in the Labour party’s manifesto, and as part of its five ‘missions to rebuild Britain.’

The statement from the primary eye care bodies added: “We know what works. We have the clinical pathways, we have the clinical teams, and we have the capacity to help make a massive difference quickly and cost-effectively.

“We are ready to make the long overdue shift from an NHS model overly reliant on secondary care to a more preventive primary eye care service, which delivers more care closer to home.”

The group reiterated that “it is time for the NHS in England to transform eye care services.”

The AOP, FODO and ABDO said that they have “let ministers and civil servants know that we are ready to start work to deliver better care for the millions of patients we serve.”

Wes Streeting was confirmed as the new health secretary on Friday 5 July. He had previously held the role within the shadow cabinet.

At the time of writing, an incoming primary care minister was still to be appointed.