30 June 2023

College welcomes the first NHS Long Term Workforce Plan

The NHS Long Term Workforce Plan recognises the knowledge and skills of eye care providers in alleviating the pressures in the eye care service.

The College has today welcomed the publication of NHS England’s Long Term Workforce Plan, and particularly the recognition that the knowledge, skills and expertise of eye care providers can help alleviate the current pressures in general practice and the hospital eye service. We are pleased to see that NHS England have recognised the calls to action in our Workforce Vision and better values the role that optometrists and their primary care colleagues play in the NHS. The College is also encouraged by the plans’ focus on better image sharing between primary and secondary care – a significant step forward in joint working with our medical, nursing and allied health professional colleagues.

Although encouraging that there will be a focus on improving clinical placements, capacity for both pre-registration optometrists and optometrists who are undertaking higher qualifications and independent prescribing urgently needs to be supported and planned for. The College will be supporting the development of the optometry workforce - and the transition to the new integrated Masters degree qualifications - by facilitating and quality assuring extended work-based clinical placements, as well as developing supervisory capacity and capability in primary eye care settings across the UK.

Along with our partners in the eye care sector, we are seeking to complete our UK wide multi-professional eye care data modelling project by the end of the year, and we look forward to sharing the tool with NHS England to help ensure their workforce plans are informed by the best possible data and projections. We welcome NHS England’s desire to work with professional bodies to deliver their plans and look forward to supporting them and ICSs to ensure better eye care for all, and an eye care workforce that is fit for the future.

Further information

Related further reading

How should you market your business while avoiding outlandish claims and falling foul of the Advertising Standards Authority? Juliette Astrup reports.

Which elements are key to the process of shared decision-making between clinician and patient? Georgina Wintersgill reports.

Léa Surugue looks at the costly and debilitating effects of migraine, and how better classification can protect patients’ health.