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NIHR information for Orthoptists

The UK Government has embedded research and innovation within the NHS (Health & Social Care Act 2012). The National Institute for Health Research has promoted, funded and coordinated a Clinical Research Network that is divided into 15 regions. Within these regions, NHS research takes place in primary and secondary care facilities and in the case of Ophthalmology, is primarily consultant-led, although increasingly there have been orthoptists who have taken on roles of site investigator for studies. Across the UK several orthoptists are engaged as research orthoptists in studies and these individuals are listed in the database of eye research-active staff at hospital-level called OPERA (OPhthalmology Encyclopedia of Research Architecture). For information from the OPERA database, please contact the Specialty Cluster D Manager, Ian Nickson, on ian.nickson@nihr.ac.uk.

To engage with NHS research, orthoptists need Good Clinical Practice training, a simple obligatory fundamental on-line course that trains all healthcare workers in the principles of research within the NHS.

This webpage is designed to sign post orthoptists who are already/are thinking of participating in NHS research, as follows.

Orthoptists carry out clinical and laboratory research in many areas of eye research where their specialist skills with children, patients with special needs or the elderly, are valuable. Orthoptists are involved in research at all levels:- from being employed as Research Orthoptists on clinical studies, right up to being NIHR Senior Research Fellows, Principal Investigators and grant budget holders on large NIHR and Research Council funded projects.  Many orthoptists undertake research training to Masters or PhD level. They are eligible to apply for all levels and most streams of NIHR research training Fellowships and grants, with many projects on the NIHR CRN Portfolio. The British & Irish Orthoptic Society provides a small amount of funding for early-stage projects and offers practical support and mentorship for researchers at all levels. The BIOS Research Web pages are currently in the Members Section of the BIOS website. For up to date research news there is the BIOS Twitter feed (@OrthoptResearch) and further information can be obtained from the BIOS Research Director, Professor Anna Horwood. Orthoptists compete for early-career funding from the British Isles Paediatric Ophthalmology & Strabismus Association and charities such as Fight for Sight and the Stroke Association. Practical support for orthoptist research is also provided by the Council for AHP Research (CAHPR) local hubs which support all allied health professionals to develop research careers.