Reforms to primary eye care in Wales welcome but concerns highlighted over services for most vulnerable
Some areas of the Welsh Government’s proposals have come under scrutiny by eye care practitioners practising in Wales since a consultation on reforms opened in April
Members of the Association of Optometrists (AOP) have welcomed proposed changes put forward by the Welsh Government to reform primary eye care in Wales but voiced concerns over the impact the new proposals may have on some aspects of eye care.
In a survey on the proposals, AOP members had doubts around how domiciliary services will be delivered with a cut to the visiting fee from £38.27 to £26 faced by many practitioners. Almost 40% of survey participants concluded the services would be much harder to provide under the new plans, and 30% echoed the same fears over low vision assessments, with fees reduced from £80 to £53 for annual follow ups.
Almost half (44%) said that the reforms would also have a detrimental effect on the services offered for specific groups, with over 60% saying patients would be negatively impacted and face increased costs if they are: under 40 on low income; over 40 and under 60 on low income; over 60 eligible for GOS3.
Adam Sampson, AOP Chief Executive, thanked members practising in Wales for taking part in the AOP member survey: “We are extremely grateful to all our members who have taken part in this important piece of research and continue to do so as we formulate our response to the Welsh Government’s consultation.
“There is much in the proposals we welcome, not least the increased funding for GOS sight tests. But we believe areas of concern need to be addressed urgently, and this view has only been reinforced by our engagement with members.
“Questions around the treatment of domiciliary and low vision services in particular remain an area of serious worry for our members, who foresee the detrimental impact it could have on the most vulnerable patients who are reliant on these services. The reduction of voucher values, mandatory spectacle supply, and the lack of clarity around the future of GOS also need to be reconsidered. There is a lot to be positive about but we will continue to press the Welsh Government on these issues on behalf of our members, and to ensure a proper, equitable eye care service for patients in Wales.”
The AOP will form its response on behalf of members in Wales based on the survey findings alongside insights gathered from face to face and virtual events with eye care practitioners earlier this month. The consultation closes on 19 June 2023.
For more information, please contact Serena Box, PR and Media Manager, at the Association of Optometrists, [email protected] or telephone 020 7549 2040.
Notes to Editors
Association of Optometrists
The Association of Optometrists (AOP) is the leading representative membership organisation for optometrists in the UK. We support over 80% of practising optometrists, to fulfil their professional roles to protect the nation’s eye health. For more information, visit www.aop.org.uk