Extended services should be optimised

NHSEI calls on commissioners to make better use of expertise in primary eye care

Association of Optometrists logoAssociation of British Dispensing Opticians logo

The College of Optometrists logoFODO logoLOCSU logo

The NHS England and NHS Improvement National Eye Care Recovery and Transformation Programme has published guidance recommending NHS commissioners make better use of expertise in primary eye care. The actions include optimising existing extended primary eye care contracts by:

  • Ensuring existing primary eye care contracts are fully serviced and utilised
  • Working with primary care providers to ascertain possible scope of increased capacity and activity
  • Utilising risk stratification processes to enable clinically appropriate patients to transfer to primary eye care
  • Enablement of rapid transfer of patient care
  • Support for a collaborative approach between primary eye care services and hospital eye care services
  • Exploring the use of a single point of access approach, where appropriate

The document further highlights five primary care-based service areas for systems to optimise:

  • The optimisation of existing Urgent Eye Care Services. (MECS, CUES, PEARS or local equivalent) alongside a request to work with LOCs locally where such services do not exist to establish them
  • The optimisation of existing cataract pathways commissioned from primary care, including post-surgical follow-up pathways
  • The optimisation of primary care-based glaucoma pathways to include both referral filtering and monitoring
  • The introduction of single point of access processes, to aid care navigation into primary eye care services

As national optical representation bodies we welcome this guidance and its strong support for the continuation and expansion of extended primary eye care. These services are able to tackle outpatient waits, reduce the risk of avoidable blindness and address hospital capacity pressures which existed prior to COVID-19, and have increased significantly as a result of the pandemic.

Improved access to care outside hospital is also key to outpatient transformation and bringing the benefits of integrated care closer to home for an ageing population. Further, the statement paves the way for the development and introduction of Optometry First services as outlined in our joint communication of 10 February 2022.

If you would like to learn more about Optometry First, please contact your LOC, LOCSU or your representative body. You can also apply for an account on the FutureNHS Collaboration Platform and view the Optometry First Toolkit online.

Notes to editors

The national optical representative bodies:

ABDO – The Association of British Dispensing Opticians is the professional body for dispensing opticians. Its purpose is to support and represent its members, promote awareness of their roles, enable their professional development and to advance the profession as a whole.

Contact: [email protected]

AOP – The Association of Optometrists is the leading representative membership organisation for optometrists in the UK. It supports over 82% of practising optometrists to fulfil their professional roles to protect the nation’s eye health. It protects, supports and represents its members throughout their careers.

Contact: [email protected]

The College of Optometrists is the professional body for optometry and supports its members in achieving excellence throughout their careers. It champions the profession, defines best clinical practice, and enables optometrists to develop through high-quality training and qualifications. The College ensures that optometry continues to progress through research, and actively educates and advises the public.

Contact: [email protected]

FODO – The Association for Eye Care Providers – is the leading national association for eye care providers working in primary and community care settings. Each year its members provide over 18 million eye examinations and offer a wide range of other eye care services across the UK.

Contact: [email protected]

LOCSU – LOCSU is the Local Optical Committee Support Unit, supporting Local Optical Committees (LOCs) in England across a range of activities relating to primary eye care. Our work includes policy work, pathway development, commissioning support, governance and compliance support, communication and training.

Contact: [email protected]