Eye health firmly on the agenda says Katrina

Hot on the heels of the publication of the round-table discussion on cataract surgery in the Health Service Journal, last week has definitely been one where it feels like eye health is very much in the spotlight ‒ writes Katrina Venerus in the LOCSU Blog.

Eye Health gets equal prominence – NHS “Call to Action”

Last week started with a meeting of the working group NHS England has set up to develop the “Call to Action” for eye health. The eye health workstream follows on from the General Practice, Pharmacy and Dental “Calls to Action” which invite patients, public and staff to join a national conversation about the future demand on NHS services, the impact of changing health needs and how we will meet these challenges.

The findings from all four “Calls to Action” will be used by NHS England to develop a Strategic Framework, or ‒ to put it more simply ‒ “a future direction” for Primary Care.

Personally, I am delighted that NHS England is giving equal prominence to eye health among the rest of Primary Care, and I hope that the whole sector will get behind the “Call to Action” when it is published in May and take the opportunity to create some real influence.

Real mix of backgrounds in Professional Networks gives LEHNs value and momentum

Last Tuesday I had the privilege of attending the NHS England National Assembly for Local Professional Networks in Manchester. It is fantastic to see the development of Local Eye health Networks finally gaining some momentum, with all but two Area Teams now having clinical chairs in place.

The energy at the event was palpable and the dedication and determination of those who have been appointed was great to observe. One thing that struck me is that there is a real mix of backgrounds among the chairs that have been appointed, and I believe that this will be extremely valuable in bringing different skills and experiences to the networks.

There was a definite appetite among the group to further develop their leadership skills and I was pleased to hear how valuable the chairs who have completed the LOCSU Leadership Module felt it had been to them.

In his opening address, David Geddes showed a video clip that was a light-hearted reminder that followers are perhaps more important than leaders. It is definitely worth taking a look: www.youtube.com/watch?v=fW8amMCVAJQ.

Drip-feed of key messages noted by Commissioners

Then, last Wednesday, it was on to the Commissioning Live event at the London Design Centre as part of LOCSU’s work to raise awareness of community eye health services among commissioners. I presented a brief overview of “the managed service solution for CCGs”.

The headlines that we are too well aware of are not quite so familiar to CCGs. So it was a great platform to highlight how minor eye conditions services can reduce pressure on A&E departments and ophthalmology outpatient clinics, and how community services can improve access, convenience and choice for patients, as well as value for money for commissioners.

The fact that the Primary Eyecare Companies/the LOC Company model can relieve the burden of administering community eye health services that few CCGs have any capacity or desire to do themselves is the icing on the cake. The “drip, drip” of these key messages is important if we are to achieve our objectives for the professions, patients and the NHS.

Commissioners aware minor eye care numbers

I was joined at Commissioning Live by Optical Lead, Dharmesh Patel, who represented LOCSU at a round table event on the theme of “Prescribing for Minor Eye Conditions”. Commissioners won’t have missed the fact that, as the panel concluded, GPs difficulties in managing these conditions are leading to large number of patients attending secondary care, which research and statistics reveal.

Dharmesh reminded the panel members, which included the RCGPs Clinical Champion for eye health, that optometrists are perfectly placed – and legally permitted –­ to prescribe medication that can treat the vast majority of minor eye conditions, so reducing the numbers attending hospital. Another great opportunity to highlight the fact that optometrists are a highly skilled, significant part of the primary care workforce.


Finally, I couldn’t talk about significant events of the week without mentioning the retirement party of AOP’s Deputy Chief Executive and Head of Regulatory Affairs, Richard Carswell.  Colleagues from across the sector gathered last Wednesday evening to wish Richard well and to recognise his service to AOP of over 20 years.  Richard has been a strong advocate for LOCSU from the beginning and in his time as Acting Head of Unit, Richard gave tremendous support to the organisation and to me personally. I would like to thank him for all he has done for us over the years and wish him well in his retirement.





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Dates for the diary

Solihull LOC's AGM

St John's Hotel, 651 Warwick Rd, Solihull B91 1AT

Annual AGM

2018-10-03 19:00:00 - 2018-10-03 21:30:00

Contact name: Cathy Pike

Contact email: solihull.loc@hotmail.co.uk

National Optical Conference 2018

Chesford Grange hotel, Nr Kenilworth, Warwick CV8 2LD

Annual NOC for LOC officers and its members

2018-11-14 17:00:00 - 2018-11-15 17:30:00

Contact email: info@locsu.co.uk

Contact telephone number: 020 7549 2051

East Yorkshire LOC's AGM

Village Hotel, Henry Boot Way, Hull HU4 7DY

Annual AGM

2018-11-19 18:30:00 - 2018-11-19 21:00:00

Contact name: Ean Blair

Contact email: ean@optometrics.co.uk

Contact telephone number: 07768 492806

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