23 February 2023

CCEHC writes to NHS England regarding the Special School Eye Care Service

The Clinical Council for Eye Health Commissioning has written to NHS England urging them to commission a School Eye Care Service for children with special needs.

Sent to:

Head of Dental and Ophthalmic Services (Primary Care Commissioning), NHSE

Deputy Director for Dental and Ophthalmic contracts, NHSE  

National Clinical Director for Eye Care, NHSE

National Clinical Director for Learning Disability and Autism, NHSE

Senior Programme Lead – Optical Commissioning NHS England - Primary Care

Dear Colleagues,

We are writing to you today within the scope of the Memorandum of Understanding between NHS England and the Clinical Council for Eye Health Commissioning (CCEHC). The CCEHC is aware of the extensive work that NHS England has done in developing and trialling the NHS England Special School Eye Care Service (SSECS). We and our member organisations have been, and remain, supportive of the development of an appropriate service which delivers eye care for children with special needs.

We are concerned by the delay and apparent lack of progress in the current evaluation process and subsequent commissioning of a long-term solution that supports those children who require such a service. In addition, we also consider that any potential restriction of such a service to purely residential schools would be a denial of service to children with identical needs but different social circumstances, notwithstanding the goals set out in the NHS Long Term Plan .

We would therefore strongly urge NHS England to commission a School Eye Care Service for children with special needs which:

  • Allows for appropriate adjustments to be made to facilitate the delivery of care in an environment best suited for each individual child.
  • A service which ensures equity of access to care whatever the needs of an individual child.
  • Ensures that children are not forced to be seen, unnecessary for their care needs, by the Hospital Eye Service in a secondary care setting.

We believe and would stress that all these points should be addressed by any commissioned service.

The CCEHC membership covers the whole spectrum of organisations working in eye care, and we are keen to a continue a dialogue with NHS England on this issue, as well as to use our good offices to inform your evaluation and support progress in commissioning an appropriate service for these children with special needs.

We look forward to hearing from you as how best you consider such a dialogue can be taken forward.

Kind regards,

Mr Wojciech Karwatowski MD, FRCOphth

Chair of the Clinical Council for Eye Health Commissioning

Consultant Ophthalmologist at University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust

Ms Zoe Richmond MCOptom

Vice Chair of the Clinical Council for Eye Health Commissioning

Optometrist and Clinical Director at the Local Optical Committee Central Support Unit (LOCSU)

The Clinical Council for Eye Health Commissioning 

The Clinical Council for Eye Health Commissioning (CCEHC) is an independent advisory body, representing the leading clinical professions and charity organisations in the eye-care sector in England. We provide evidence-based national clinical leadership, advice and guidance to policy makers in health, social care and public health, and those commissioning and providing eye health services in England. Our recommendations represent the best evidence available, are independent of any professional or commercial interests, and are provided in the best interests of patients.

We work with NHS England/Improvement to improve eye health outcomes, and promote high quality accessible eye health services that address local health inequalities; this is recognised as such through a Memorandum of Understanding.

The CCEHC consists of the following member organisations: 

  • The Royal College of Ophthalmologists
  • The College of Optometrists
  • Local Optical Committee Support Unit (LOCSU)
  • British and Irish Orthoptic Society
  • Royal College of General Practitioners
  • Royal College of Nursing (Ophthalmic Section)
  • Association of British Dispensing Opticians
  • Royal National Institute of Blind People
  • Faculty of Public Health
  • Association of Directors of Adult Social Services
  • Glaucoma UK
  • Macular Society
  • Association of Optometrists (AOP)
  • Federation of Optometrists and Dispensing Opticians (FODO)

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