Specsavers voices support for a national eye health strategy in England

The multiple is calling for an end to the ‘postcode lottery’ on care ahead of a bill being brought to Parliament next week

uk parliament
Pixabay/Dan Johnston

Specsavers has expressed its support for a national eye health strategy in England ahead of a bill being brought to Parliament next week.

The group is calling for an end to the ‘postcode lottery’ on eye care ahead of Tuesday 29 November, when Battersea MP Marsha de Cordova will bring a national eye health strategy bill before the House of Commons.

De Cordova is co-chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Eye Health and Visual Impairment, and has spoken about the need for a unified national strategy on eye health.

At the Specsavers State of UK’s Eye Health 2022 launch event earlier this month (November), she told OT that the bill will “stop the fragmentation of the types of eye care and eye health treatment” and “tackle the issues around some of the health inequalities that also exist.”

On Wednesday (23 November), she tabled a Parliamentary Early Day Motion setting out what a national eye health strategy would focus on.

The Motion notes that over two million people in the UK are living with conditions that cause sight loss, that 250 people lose their sight every day, and that sight loss costs the UK economy £36 billion per year.

It goes on to say that “NHS eye care services are facing significant pressures, with ophthalmology accounting for almost 10% of NHS waiting lists” and calls for “the development of a National Eye Care Strategy which would focus on improved health outcomes, eliminate the postcode lottery of eye care treatment, address the inequities in access to, and provision of, eye care services, reduce the backlog, ensure positive patient experiences, ensure providers of care are joined up, maximise workforce capacity and skills and make better use of research and innovation.”

Giles Edmonds, clinical services director at Specsavers, said: “We support a national eye health strategy because of the huge importance of eye health, not only to individuals but to their families and to Britain as a whole.

“Specsavers is all about changing lives through better sight – and we believe that by the eye health sector working together we can better support our patients and the NHS.”

Released this autumn, the Specsavers State of the UK’s Eye Health 2022 report warned that the UK faces a glaucoma ‘time bomb’ with long waiting lists for NHS ophthalmology appointments.

It also highlighted how eye health experts say an enhanced role for community optometrists working with ophthalmologists is crucial to fulfilling pent-up demand and unmet need.

Edmonds added: “The necessity to draw on the skills of the entire eye care sector to prevent avoidable sight loss was one of the key takeaways from the report and we would wholeheartedly support a national eye health strategy that helps deliver this.”