High Street optical practices can be a force for reform, health minister Alistair Burt said following a meeting with leaders from the optical sector.
Minister of State for Community and Social Care, Alistair Burt, had a positive meeting with the leaders from the optical sector last month and said that practices could help the NHS to deliver reforms set out in the Five Year Forward View.
Mr Burt said that optometrists and opticians were well positioned to play a wider role in transforming health delivery with other primary care professionals and could help reduce the pressure on GPs and hospital care, such as A&E.
“There is no doubt that some of the best examples I have seen so far from the Vanguards sites are where they are getting other professions involved in delivering care in the community to support general practice.
“I sincerely hope that eye care and ophthalmology will feature in the new model of care within some of the Vanguard sites.
“I recognise that optical practices could play a wider role in delivering care closer to patients and that they can take some of the pressure away from GPs.”
Mr Burt told leaders from the optical sector that he understood the importance of connecting optical practices to the rest of the NHS.
Optical leaders explained to the health minister that, in their view, the IT bid submitted by the sector to NHS England was critical to the secure sharing of patient records and that out-of-hospital care was dependent on this connectivity.
The Minister, who is responsible for primary care commissioning policy, along with ophthalmic and dentistry services and the GP contract, revealed he is looking forward to continuing to work with the optical profession.
Responding on behalf of the Optical Confederation and LOCSU, Tony Garrett said: “This was a very positive meeting. We were pleased to have had such a productive and encouraging meeting with the minister. We welcome his interest in the sector and look forward to working with him.”