Optometry: delivering ‘A Healthier Wales’ 2021 to 2031
The Welsh Government has endorsed and published the Welsh Optometric Committee’s (WOC) plan, Optometry: Delivering a Healthier Wales 2021.
This includes plans for a revised GOS contract with better fees for sight testing and primary eye care services, enabling more patients to be managed in primary care without attending the hospital. The Welsh Government and WOC have set the following goals.
• A new contract for primary care optometry with a focus on clinical care to be rolled out across Wales bringing together GOS, EHEW, domiciliary and low-vision services.
• The contract for primary care optometry will incorporate a suite of enhanced eye care services that enables more patients to be managed close to home, rather than being referred to hospital.
• Updated governance for domiciliary services to enable people to access urgent eye care and pre/post-operative pathways at home if they cannot attend an optometry practice.
• Information will be collected electronically to enable activity, workforce and capacity information about primary care to be reported to a live dashboard.
• The new contract for primary care optometry to prove flexible enough to allow existing services to be adapted and new services to be developed, keeping pace with demand and advances in technology, treatments and training.
• Practice-level clinical audits and research to be routinely conducted in primary eye care.
• Outcome measures that matter to patients will be embedded in routine optometric clinical care.
In related news, Optometry Wales (OW) hosted a Q&A session with the Welsh Government last month. The Q&A confirmed the intention is to invest most in the GOS sight test service and that the goal is “to truly recognise the value that we deliver in terms of refractive correction”.
The Welsh Government and OW said the “main cause of sight loss in the UK is refractive error”, accounting for 39% of avoidable sight loss, and as a result they “must ensure [they] are able to provide this service in order to reduce this figure”.
David Hewlett of FODO said: “FODO supports WOC’s vision and welcomes Welsh Government plans for new investment in sight test fees while ensuring people continue to have equitable access to vision correction.
“We fully support making better use of primary eye care skills and facilities and a more significant role for primary eye care in local NHS planning. The key now is to ensure a sustainable funding model which improves patient access to eye care and vision correction.”
Optometry Wales has asked for feedback ahead of fee discussions, stating “questions and feedback is always welcomed as formal negotiations have not started yet. If you would like to feedback to OW, you can do this via your Regional Optical Committee (ROC) through email@example.com or via OW social media platforms.”