26 May 2022

Primary eye care welcomes Fuller Stocktake report

National optical representative bodies [1] have welcomed the Fuller Stocktake report on integrating primary care in England.

In Next steps for integrating primary care: Fuller Stocktake report, NHS England highlights the crucial role that primary eye care and the other primary care specialisms have played at the heart of communities for generations. 

As Dr Claire Fuller, the CEO designate Surrey Heartlands ICS and GP, who led the stocktake, says: “Primary care must be at the heart of each of our new [ICSs].”

The report aims to help new Integrated Care Systems (ICSs) and the place based objectives of Primary Care Networks (PCNs) in England fully utilise the expertise and capacity in primary care, including primary eye care. For example, by acknowledging optometry and dispensing optics’ role in ‘making every contact count’, including smoking cessation advice in Healthy Living Optical Practices.

However, the review raises concerns about General Practice capacity. 

To address these issues, the report sets out a vision for integrating primary care:

  • Streamlining access to care and advice when people need it
  • Providing more proactive, personalised care with support from a multidisciplinary team of professionals
  • Helping people to stay well for longer.

There is also a call for a renewed focus for primary care to do more on prevention of ill health. The report acknowledges that in the NHS, the “majority of our effort is focused on treating people who have already become sick. We need to create a sense of urgency around providing proactive care and improving outcomes for our population."

These are welcome messages for the new ICSs about primary eye care, which each year sees more than 20 million patients. Prevention, as well as treatment, is what we do. We already provide streamlined access to care and advice, personalised care, and help people see well, preventing falls and sight loss. 

ICSs now need to build on this as part of primary eye care expansion to harness the skills and facilities of neighbourhood optical practices as the first port of call for all eye issues. 

 

  1. Representative bodies:
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Related further reading

Clinical Adviser for the College Daniel Hardiman-McCartney FCOptom on how to ensure a sustainable optometry workforce.

Clinical case studies can make a small but important contribution to the sum of clinical knowledge. Why do we need them, asks Kim Thomas, and how do you write one?

The College’s Clinical Editor, Jane Veys MCOptom, on rabbits in the headlights and royally good handovers