Pictured above, left to right, OC Chair Chris Hunt, AOP Chief Executive Henrietta Alderman, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, David Mowat MP, Derek Busby, Dental and Eye Care Service Department of Health, David Geddes, Head of Primary Care Commissioning, Helen Miscampbell, Dental & Eye Care Section Head, Department of Health
Optical Confederation (OC) representatives called for the roll-out of Minor Eye Care Services (MECS) to all commissioning areas across England at their first meeting with the new Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Health, David Mowat MP.
Central to the discussions were the pressures facing hospitals and GPs. Chris Hunt, OC Chair, and OC chief executives’ representative, Henrietta Alderman emphasised the value of community optical practitioners supporting NHS care, the public health role of the sight test and the scope for utilising local practices to allow more routine services to be brought out of hospital and provided closer to home. This would both add extra capacity to local health systems and deliver an effective, cost efficient eye health service in the community.
Chris Hunt said: “We are heartened that the Minister was genuinely interested in how the optical sector can offer real value within a primary care setting and deliver the Five Year Forward View. He was surprised that eye health services were not higher up the NHS agenda, a concern which we fully share. Indeed it was not clear that officials had convincing answers for this.”
Chief executive of the AOP, Henrietta Alderman said: “Community optical professionals and practices are already proven in delivering high-quality eye care services over and above the sight test, for example, monitoring stable glaucoma patients in the community and treating minor eye problems. The OC is keen to champion community eye health services and we were pleased that the new minister shared our desire to integrate optics into the wider NHS system and primary care planning.”
The OC and Mr Mowat agreed to meet again in early 2017. Mr Mowat will also speak at the National Optical Conference in November 2016.