The College of Optometrists and The Royal College of Ophthalmologists launch NEW joint vision for delivering eye care services across the UK

  • 26 Jul 2021
  • RCOphth

The College of Optometrists and The Royal College of Ophthalmologists (RCOphth) continue to review the ongoing impact of the pandemic on eye services across primary and secondary care.

Following on from the joint vision statement for England published in August 2020, both Colleges have reviewed and built on the learnings over the past year resulting in a joint statement for the UK: Joint UK vision RCOphth and Optometrists July 2021

In the grip of the pandemic, we worked very quickly with the RCOphth to develop joint management principles and pathways that minimise the risk of vision loss. We – working with UK nation’s health and government bodies and key sector bodies – need to build on these advances and go much further, in the interests of both of our professions and patients. We see this as the start of the conversation that will allow optometrists to be recognised and enabled to do more, in line with their skills so that optometrists can routinely provide services including, glaucoma triage and pre- and post-operative cataract assessments.

Colin Davidson FCOptom, President of the College of Optometrists

As the COVID-19 restrictions evolve, it is important to develop more integrated eye care across all organisations that can provide capacity and meet patient demand in a safe and sustainable way and which protects patients from harmful delays. The NHS hospital eye service, the independent sector, community settings and primary care optometry can come together to develop and build on existing good pathway examples in all four nations and innovations introduced at pace during COVID-19.

The joint vision aims to encourage ambitious, co-ordinated and collaborative eye care services across the whole sector, at pace and that provides equitable access for all patients, no matter where they live or what their circumstances may be. Pathways must ensure patients are prioritised based on their clinical need and to receive care that is appropriate and accessible. Multidisciplinary professionals will provide that care working collaboratively in primary care, community and hospital settings.

Both Colleges, working with key eye service providers within national health systems, recognise we cannot be complacent or stand still.  We must continue to push for more effective and innovative ways of delivering high quality patient care in a constantly changing pandemic environment and what this means for the future of eye services.  We now have tried and tested new models of care that are significantly making an impact on capacity and the backlogs.

Bernard Chang, President of The Royal College of Ophthalmologists

The joint vision is underpinned by four principles; reducing risk of visual loss due to delayed eye care; collaborative multidisciplinary professionals team working; direct patient contact with appropriate clinician or senior decision-maker eg. an optometrist with higher qualifications or the independent prescribing certificate, or the hospital eye service; pathways led by highest standards of clinical governance.

Read the full Joint UK vision RCOphth and COptometrists July 2021

Notes to Editors

  1. The College is the professional body for optometry. It qualifies the profession and delivers the guidance and training to ensure optometrists provide the best possible care. We promote excellence through the College’s affixes, by building the evidence base for optometry, and raising awareness of the profession with the public, commissioners, and health care professionals.
  2. The Royal College of Ophthalmologists is the only professional body for eye doctors, who are medically qualified and have undergone or are undergoing specialist training in the prevention, treatment and management of eye disease, including surgery. We develop policy, standards and guidance that puts patient care and safety at the heart of everything we do.
  3. Both Colleges are represented at the Steering Group of NHS England and Improvement’s National Outpatient Elective Care Recovery &Transformation Programme, which brings together key stakeholders to develop and support a shared vision and plan for the delivery of eye care services across the entire patient pathway. The programme leads, in collaboration with representatives from both Colleges, will work across organisational boundaries to develop practical guidance, commissioning tools and resources and remove long-standing barriers to change.
  4. In Wales, The College of Optometrists is working with the Welsh Government on primary eye care contract reform, which forms part of a programme of work to reform all primary care contracts.
  5. In Scotland, The College of Optometrists is working with the Scottish Government on a review of the provision of community eye care. This review will be accompanied by a sustainable future funding model for the effective provision of these services.
  6. In Northern Ireland, The College of Optometrists is working with the Northern Ireland Executive on the development of an Ophthalmic Services Rebuilding Plan, based on learning from the impact of COVID-19 on ophthalmic services in both primary and secondary care.