Sheffield Local Optometric Committee

Secretary’s Report Year Ending 31 March 2007

A frustrating year!

The review of general ophthalmic services to me was a tremendous disappointment. The dept of health had an opportunity to re-establish the professional image of community optometrists as primary eye care providers and to free us from the need to sell spectacles in order to subsidise the provision professional eye care on the NHS.

The PCT currently seem to be in complete chaos and have spent a year simply reorganising themselves. There is little interest in eye-care at the moment, PCT staff are loosing their jobs, so there has to be some understanding and sympathy, but it is none the less frustrating and somewhat embarrassing to have to admit to so little progress in the last twelve months. Thanks are expressed to Nick Ryan and Linda Liddament (Sheffield SW PCT) as they move on in their careers; it has to be a priority for the LOC to re establish formal communication with the newly formed PCT.

Complete abandonment of the Ophthalmology Joint Planning Group by STH and no leadership from the PCT.

The promise of all inclusive direct referral to the Hospital seems to have faded away to nothing.

No interest from the Sheffield School Nursing Service or Sheffield’s Children’s Hospital and complete apathy from the PCT on our attempts to develop Children’s eye screening referral pathways: It seems crazy that the professionals most qualified to assess the oculo-visual status of school age children are completely ignored when it comes to the planning of screening and referral pathways. All we can do is keep knocking on the door and hope that one day the PCT will slide the bolt across and open up to reasoned debate.

David (Shepherd) has repeated his tremendous efforts to offer patients with visual impairment the choice of service provider. We have Opticians wanting to open their doors and offer their services to the visually impaired and yet we have commissioners who seem incapable of devising anything but closed and centralised schemes.

I have simply not had the time to develop the website and use the mailing list as I would have liked to.

So all in all not a good year

However despite all these negatives – there are a few positives this year

– the health act 2006 on paper allows PCT’s to allocate GOS services as they see fit. Our professional bodies however have gained assurances from the government that GOS services will remain centrally funded and open to all optometrists. It is important that all optometrists are able to provide GOS services if they wish, but it is also important that they are paid fairly for providing these services and that the conditions required under the GOS contract and clinical governance are reasonable and specific to high street optometry. – We now have a funded refined referral scheme for glaucoma which I personally think is a massive step forward and needs to be actively promoted to all community optometrists. This is an opportunity to show what we can do if we are paid correctly for our time. – Although we have not established an all encompassing direct referral scheme – schemes are in place for the direct referral of

The Coming Year

We must re-establish effective formal communication with the newly formed Sheffield PCT and other relevant service providers and try and get all our initiatives back on track.

We must actively promote optometric services and encourage communication with the newly formed practice based commissioning consortia and monitor the shift in commissioning power from the PCT to these new bodies.

We must build on the foundations laid by the SLOC website and encourage active debate and communication between the LOC and Sheffield community optoms. The SLOC website has a mailing list which represents only a small section of practicing opticians – I am embarrassed that I personally have not found the time to use this mailing list effectively to encourage interest and debate across the city. In my opinion we should ensure that communication goes out at least every 2/12. We must keep optoms up to date on all aspects of the LOC’s work even if the progress is very slow. We should use the mailing list as a tool for education between primary and secondary care and as a catalyst for debate. We could publish articles written by Dr’s ophthalmologists and optometrists – whoever – and encourage communication across the city – perhaps even apply for CET.

We must encourage visitors to the LOC meetings and perhaps co-opt new members who may have more free time that could be utilized in order to meet these objectives.

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