College of Optometrists hold ‘Optical Professions: what does the future hold?’ event

The College of Optometrists has held a roundtable meeting involving key sector organisations to prepare the profession for future developments, as highlighted in the recent Foresight and Optical Workforce Survey (OWS) reports. Event participants included representatives from organisations involved in each report as well as others who will have a significant part to play in the future of the profession. The event will be followed up by a report with recommendations in the coming months.

The Foresight and OWS reports highlight that technology advances, the ageing population, the changing demographics of the professions, and ongoing capacity issues will have an immutable impact on the delivery of eye health services over the coming years. At the meeting, the College of Optometrists asked participants to address three crucial questions in relation to significant areas of potential change that key players in the sector identified in advance:  What will change, what needs to change, what can the sector do about it?

The three broad themes identified were:

  • technology
  • regulation, training, scope of practice
  • changing demographics of the profession

Participants discussed potential solutions and strategies to navigate the changes through a series of facilitated workshops and open discussion.

Mike Bowen, College of Optometrists director of research said; “The sector is fortunate to have these key pieces of intelligence. It is vital to ensure that they are used to inform actions that allow the optical professions to shape themselves to deliver effective services in the future. I think the sector needs to be proactive in turning challenges identified into opportunities. This needs to happen, both for professionals working in the sector and for the advancement of improved eye health provision and this meeting was an excellent starting point.”

Alan Tinger, Chair of LOCSU and Chair of the Foresight Project said; “I’m delighted that the sector is coming together in such a collaborative way to address future challenges following on from publication of the Foresight Report and of the Optical Workforce Survey. As trusted professions, we must be adaptable and tackle the changing landscape of optics head on. If we don’t, others certainly will – global technological advances will see to that.”