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Association of Optometrists Ireland calls for new contract amid growing hospital waiting lists

Optometrists urge HSE to provide more care in the community as 40,000 patients wait for outpatient eye care

three surgeons
Pixabay/Sasin Tipchai

The Association of Optometrists Ireland (AOI) has urged the Health Services Executive (HSE) and Department of Health to engage with the profession and develop a new contract – with the current contract dating back to 1999.

AOI president, John Weldon, highlighted that there is “significant untapped potential” within the optometry community to address capacity issues within hospitals.

Waiting list statistics published at the end of April 2021 show more than 40,000 patients on the outpatient eye care waiting list and 7300 on the inpatient waiting list.

“There are 300 optometry practices and 700 practitioners in every locality of the country and they have capacity to provide much needed care,” Weldon emphasised.

The AOI is calling for a new contract that would use the Sligo model to alleviate cataract treatment delays, roll out the children’s eye care programme nationally and increase the right of optometrists to prescribe certain eye medications.

There would be the opportunity to embed up-to-date agreements on the medical card scheme.

Weldon added AOI analysis has revealed that these changes could be implemented at minimal cost or even with overall cost savings.