Devon LOC praised on eye health commitment

17 April 2014

Devon LOC has been hailed for its efforts to raise awareness of eye health with key decision makers in the local area.

The LOC has managed to ensure all 12 Members of Parliament visited a local opticians practice in their constituency over the past two years.

And, since the start of the 2014, the Committee has promoted eye health in discussions with all three Health and Wellbeing Boards (HWBs) covering the Devon LOC area.

"We want to put community optometry at the forefront of delivering high-quality, patient-centred and cost effective healthcare in community settings,” explains Jonathan Drew, Business Manager for the Devon Local Optical Committee.

“We have ensured sight loss is a key part of the Joint Strategic Needs Assessment and the Health and Wellbeing Strategy across Devon.”

Mr Drew said that, in addition to the MPs visits, the LOC had held discussion on the importance of eye health with the Chairs of Health and Wellbeing Boards, Directors of Public Health, public health specialists and policy officers with the council.

He said the LOC used the talks with the HWBs to highlight the fact that 50% of sight loss is avoidable.

Jonathan said the object of the MP’s visits is to help drive home the:

  • importance of optometrists and dispensing opticians within the community,
  • health benefits of regular sight tests,  
  • high levels of avoidable sight loss, and the
  • potential to reduce pressure on secondary care eye departments.

“Regular sight tests are the key to improving quality of life and reducing sight loss. It is great to see our local representatives get behind us and support opticians in Devon to provide high quality eye care across the county."

Acknowledging the trailblazing work of the Devon LOC, Katrina Venerus, Managing Director of LOCSU (Local Optical Committee Support Unit), said:  “It is a real testament to the drive and determination of the team on Devon LOC that they have pushed eye health up the political and health agenda with local and national representatives.

“They are a great example to other LOCs and their dedication is a credit to the optical sector. MPs visits are an important way of raising the importance of eye health among this group of key decision makers”

 The MD said that inviting an MP to see how a practice works offers LOCs the chance to raise the profile of their work, as well as inform key local opinion formers about the importance of eye health.

“Other benefits include gaining an influential ally for the profession as the LOC works to develop community services regionally.

“And attracting local press interest gives LOC an opportunity to raise awareness of eye health issues and the importance of regular sight tests for people.”

MPs visits can be organised with the help of the Optical Confederation. If your LOC would like to arrange a visit from their Member of Parliament, contact Jenny Gowen in the OC’s Public Affairs team, jennygowen@opticalconfederation.org.uk.

For more information about Devon’s approach, contact, Jonathan Drew, Business Manager, Devon Local Optical Committee: jdrew@devonloc.co.uk.

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