The optometry profession is highlighting the support it can offer stretched hospital eye services to the House of Lords Long-Term Sustainability of the NHS Committee.
The committee, which is currently hearing verbal submissions, is reviewing the entirety of the health system, which is struggling with ongoing deficits.
A number of optical bodies have made submissions to the committee, including the AOP, though these documents are released to the public as the enquiry progresses.
In its submission, the College of Optometrists highlighted the need for extended primary eye care services and community ophthalmology to support the hospital eye sector, College policy and strategy director, Jo Mullin, told OT.
The College’s submission also emphasised the need for IT investment to support community eye health services, Ms Mullin highlighted.
“Currently most optometry practices are not connected to the wider NHS. To make the system work as a whole, it is crucial that optometrists are connected to other parts of the health service so that they can make referrals, as well as receive feedback on them, and enhance patient care by exchanging data and other important information,” she added.
Convincing the House of Lords’ committee of the importance of new ways of caring for ophthalmic patients could bring about real change, Ms Mullin emphasised.
“We would hope that the House of Lords would add weight to the proposals that the eye health sector is already working hard to see implemented,” she said.
Ms Mullin explained that the submission emphasised that the status quo was not sustainable, adding: “To save patients’ sight, capacity issues in hospital eye services need to be addressed. The ageing population, together with access to new treatments, only serve to make this more urgent.”
The committee will report its findings by 31 March, 2017.
Image credit: Terry Moore