The Royal College of Ophthalmologists is the professional membership body for ophthalmologists in the UK. Ophthalmologists can often save or preserve the sight of patients, enabling them to live independent lives. Our role and purpose is to set the standards of eye care and to support the professional development, training, examinations and education of those who carry out patient care in the hospital eye service.
We are not a regulatory body, nor are we responsible for the contracts of doctors in the healthcare system. However, we understand the reasons behind junior doctors overwhelmingly voting for industrial action in the BMA ballot.
Junior doctors have taken this drastic step in the hope that the government will understand the current depth of feelings that more must be done to invest in a sustainable workforce, to recognise the value of our doctors, to protect the healthcare system and ultimately, the care of patients at the point of need.
Professor Bernie Chang, President said, ‘Ophthalmology is the highest elective outpatient service in the NHS and all our members have worked hard to overcome the backlogs. However, there has been inadequate investment in our workforce, infrastructure and technology. Many of our members are just feeling burned out and that they are not being heard or valued. This has no doubt contributed heavily to the vote for strike action.’
In ophthalmology, patients are at significant risk of avoidable sight loss if not seen in a timely way and has a devastating personal impact, as well as for their carers and families.
Professor Chang continued, ‘It is essential that the government, working with the relevant healthcare organisations, are able to mitigate any major disruptions for patients and their care. Meanwhile, it is important that patients continue to attend their appointments when asked to do so.‘
The Royal College of Ophthalmologists, will continue to support our members and to ask for critical investment in more training places, technology and the hospital eye service infrastructure. We hope for a swift resolution to the proposed industrial strike action.