Dudley Optical Practices to offer health checks in pioneering pilot

10 August 2015

Optical practices are to provide free health and lifestyle check-ups in a ground-breaking new initiative launched this month.

Smoking cessation, weight management and alcohol screening are among the help offered to customers as part of innovative pilot jointly devised by Dudley Local Optical Committee and Public Health Dudley who funded it.

The Healthy Living Optician scheme is the brain-child of LOC Chair, Shamina Asif, who saw the success of a similar approach through local community pharmacists.

The Dudley pilot will be the first time in England that optical practices have delivered preventative health tips. It follows the success of the Health Living Pharmacist scheme.

Launching the scheme Shamina said: “For the population of Dudley, the Healthy Living Optician scheme will provide a valuable resource for communities and will make a tangible contribution to improvement in health and wellbeing.”

Speaking after the launch, Katrina Venerus from the Local Optical Support Unit (LOCSU), said: “Optical practices and professionals are regularly overlooked as part of the wider NHS workforce. Yet 20 million annual sight tests present an unmissable chance to start healthy conversations.

“The NHS Five Year Forward View has an explicit call for a radical upgrade in prevention,” said Venerus, LOCSU’s Managing Director. “A sea change is required in healthcare delivery and opticians and optometrists can be a vital part of that.

“We have the clinical skills, the long-term customer relationships along with community locations and seven-day opening to make significant health interventions as high-street health hubs advising on lifestyles, helping change behaviour and signposting that the Five Year Forward View demands of a preventative approach.

“The Healthy Living Optician initiative is just the type of innovative new model of care that the NHS reforms are demanding. We will be looking closely at the results of the Dudley pilot to persuade other public health teams in England to roll out the Health Living Optician concept in their areas.”

“With 2.6 million GP appointments and 270,000 A&E visits attributed to eye-related problems every year, it makes good sense to free up unnecessary time spent in hospital and GP surgeries by using the skills, equipment and availability of opticians and optometrists.

“There are 1.6 million visits to community pharmacies each day and collaboration partnerships with other primary care professionals beyond the GP surgery can make resources go further and ultimately improve patient care and experience.

Nine optical practices are participating in scheme and optical staff have undertaken additional specialist training to become accredited Healthy Living Opticians. As part of the rigorous accreditation process, all participating practices will have a health information zone where health prevention messages and services are promoted.

The services are free to anyone living or working in the Dudley borough and the full list includes NHS Health Checks (such as blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose) smoking cessation, weight management and alcohol screening.

At the launch at R T Knight Opticians in Dudley Street on Friday 7 August, Mayor, Councillor Steve Waltho said: “I’m delighted to be launching this fantastic new service in the borough. All opticians provide a valuable service, but Healthy Living Opticians will provide a much broader range of support and expert advice, with each member of the team being proactive in supporting the health and wellbeing of their customers.”

MEDIA ENQUIRIES

Media enquiries at LOCSU, please contact: Chris McGachy, Head of Communications, 020 7549 2053 or email: cmcgachy@locsu.co.uk. Images from the event are available.

For more information about the Health Living Optician Scheme, visit the dedicated website, www.dudleyhlo.co.uk.

 

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