LOCSU produces Optometry First webinar

A recording of a webinar event discussing the Optometry First model has been made available online


The Local Optical Committee Support Unit (LOCSU) has delivered a webinar event on Optometry First with the National Eye Care Recovery & Transformation Programme, offering an introduction to the clinical model that emphasises the role of primary care practitioners in “first contact patient eye care.”

Optometry First aims to make “optimal use” of the primary eye care workforce as first point of contact practitioners and to manage low risk patients with long-term conditions. This would broaden the scope of care delivered in primary care and help to support capacity in the health service, LOCSU outlined.

The How to build an Optometry First service webinar covered primary eye care’s contribution to the recovery, as well as the transformation of, eye care services in England. A recording of the session has now been made available on LOCSU’s website and YouTube channel.

The event provided an introduction to the national recovery and transformation programme and the Optometry First care model. Speakers also discussed two of the key enablers that support the delivery of Optometry First; commissioning and workforce. This was followed by a panel discussion covering key questions.

Introducing Optometry First, Zoe Richmond, interim clinical director for LOCSU, reflected on the role primary eye care has played through the pandemic – in providing sight testing along with urgent and emergency care locally, avoiding the need for patients to travel to hospital eye services. She said: “We’ve been agile and responsive and our practices are now very well placed, I believe, to support secondary care recovery, working to ensure our patients see the right person, in the right place, at the right time.

“The overall aim of Optometry First is to release capacity within the hospital,” Richmond explained. “In turn, this will allow for the hospital teams to see those patients who are most in need. But Optometry First is also about improving the patient flow and experience, and delivering care in a more sustainable model locally, making better use of what is available to us.”

Following the release of the webinar recording, Dr Peter Hampson, clinical and professional director at the AOP, gave insight into the Optometry First approach, explaining: “For many years, the AOP along with sector colleagues has advocated that optometrists and dispensing opticians are best placed to deliver first contact patient eye care.”

This position is “more important than ever before,” Hampson emphasised, with the patient backlog exacerbated by the pandemic.

“If patients are to receive timely care, and we are serious about tackling the backlog, utilising the primary care workforce is essential,” he concluded.

For more on Optometry First, watch the webinar below.

How to build an Optometry First service

Delivered in conjunction with the National Eye Care Recovery & Transformation Programme, LOCSU’s webinar provides an introduction to the care model

Following the event, Richmond explained that the webinar saw good engagement, adding: “We will continue to engage, listen, innovate and collaborate to promote the principles.”