Our Policy Priorities

Our policy work is developed in consultation with members and partners in the eye health sector. We aim to influence public policy to maintain high standards of care and outcomes for patients and a workforce needed to meet that care.

A core aim of The Royal College of Ophthalmologists is to ensure high standards of ophthalmic patient care; saving the sight of the nation is important for people’s well-being, quality of life and maintaining a productive society and economy. To do this we need a sustainable workforce in place to deliver that care.

One way we do this is by working with our members, NHS organisations and other bodies, like the GMC, in the UK to influence policies that affect the delivery of ophthalmology services. We also partner with primary care organisations like The College of Optometrists and also the independent sector.

Our policy work focuses on a range of important priorities

  • We have a multi-professional eye care workforce in place that meets the needs of patients
  • The role played by independent sector providers contributes to the delivery of sustainable patient care, including by enabling access to surgical training
  • Eye care services are better integrated across primary, secondary and community care so that patient outcomes and experience is improved
  • Ophthalmologists are empowered to become involved in clinical research, and eye care practice is led by the latest innovation and research

We produce and disseminate evidence based research

  • Our work highlights how eye care services, and the workforce needed to underpin it, needs to be supported
  • Working with government, NHS bodies and regulators in the four nations, including by responding to consultations, to ensure decisions taken reflect the needs of eye care services, patients and ophthalmologists
  • Understanding the priorities and views of our members – including through our committees, ophthalmic clinical leads and Council

If you would like to become involved in our policy work, or have any comments or suggestions please email [email protected]

Policy Updates

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RCOphth workforce census reveals serious NHS ophthalmology workforce shortages and growing role of independent sector providers

The Royal College of Ophthalmologists (RCOphth) has today published the results of its 2022 workforce census, highlighting the scale of staff shortages in NHS ophthalmology services and how they will continue to worsen over the coming years without immediate action. The report also finds increasing concerns regarding the impact of independent sector providers (private companies undertaking NHS-funded services) delivering NHS ophthalmology care.

Government’s Elective Recovery Taskforce right to prioritise diagnostic capacity but independent sector is not a panacea

The Government’s Elective Recovery Taskforce has announced several actions aimed at increasing capacity in England in its implementation plan, especially through expanded independent sector involvement in the delivery of NHS services. While the measures, analysed in this article, represent an important acknowledgement of the need to urgently expand capacity and aspects of the plan can help ophthalmology if implemented effectively, to make a real difference policymakers must prioritise properly investing in NHS services and its workforce and infrastructure.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Eye scans detect signs of Parkinson’s disease up to seven years before diagnosis

A team led by Siegfried Wagner and Pearse Keane of Moorfields Eye Hospital and UCL Institute of Ophthalmology (and spanning UCL institutions) has identified markers that indicate the presence of Parkinson’s disease in patients on average seven years before clinical presentation. This is the first time anyone has shown these findings several years before diagnosis, and these results were made possible by the largest study to date on retinal imaging in Parkinson’s disease.

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View the findings of our latest National Ophthalmology Database Audit for cataract surgery

Cataract surgery remains the most frequently performed surgical procedure in the UK with almost half a million operations a year, results from our latest National Ophthalmology Database (NOD) Audit show.

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Cataract Services Workforce Guidance and Calculator Tool

Working with primary and secondary partners and patients, the Cataract Services Workforce Guidance March 2021 includes a RCOphth cataract workforce calculator tool Mar2021 to support workforce planning to meet demand.

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An elderly patient with her carer walking down a hospital corridor.

Quality & Safety

Healthcare quality and safety must be paramount in all ophthalmic services and at the centre of ophthalmic clinical professional practice. Clinical governance is the system or process by which quality and safety are delivered and continuously improved.

Find out more about our work in this area