Plans for a national eye health strategy bill unveiled

Marsha de Cordova MP laid out plans to bring forward a national eye health strategy bill at an event in Parliament on Tuesday

A bill calling for a national eye health strategy will be brought before Parliament by Labour MP Marsha de Cordova.

De Cordova, the MP for Battersea and chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Eye Health and Vision Impairment, detailed her plans at the Specsavers State of the UK’s Eye Health event in Parliament on Tuesday (8 November).

De Cordova plans to put forward a 10 Minute Rule Motion in the House of Commons at 11.30am on Tuesday 29 November. 

She hopes the bill will “improve the quality of life of people with sight loss, address health inequalities, and link up patient pathways for overall improved health outcomes” by focusing “on workforce expansion, research into future treatments, utilisation of new technologies, and increased uptake of innovative treatments.”

De Cordova, who was diagnosed with nystagmus as a baby, noted that ophthalmology is one of the busiest outpatient clinics within the NHS, with over 640,000 people waiting to see an eye care specialist.

“We are currently facing an emergency when it comes to eye care and eye health in the UK,” she said.

She told OT that she hopes the bill will “stop the fragmentation of the types of eye care and eye health treatment” and “address workplace capacity challenges, but also tackle the issues around some of the health inequalities that also exist.”

She said: “In Scotland and Wales, we already have strategies that appear to be working well. I would like to see us in England adopt some of that best practice to ensure that regardless of where you live in our country, you will be able to receive good eye care treatment. We just need to have the will to get it done.”

De Cordova hopes to gain industry and voluntary sector support for the bill, and that this will encourage the Government to see the importance of a national eye health strategy to “bring about that change for people living with sight loss.”

She emphasised that, by 2050, a projected 500 people will begin to lose their sight every day, and that, “When we know that sight loss is avoidable, that tells me we’ve got to take action.”

She added: “I’m optimistic that the bill will lead to positive change. Part of what inspires me as a parliamentarian is being able to use my voice and my position to accelerate change for people who are often, in my opinion, overlooked or not always considered.

“I will continue to press the Government to deliver a better standard of eye care and deliver change that really will transform the lives of so many of us.”