16 May 2023

College of Optometrists provides written and oral evidence to House of Lords

College Clinical Adviser gives evidence to the House of Lords Integration of Primary and Community Care Committee.

The College of Optometrists has given oral evidence to the Integration of Primary and Community Care Committee at the House of Lords. College Clinical Adviser, Daniel Hardiman-McCartney MBE FCOptom presented to the committee, along with representatives from The College of General Dentistry and The Royal Pharmaceutical Society. 

At the House of Lords, Daniel highlighted several key messages on behalf of our members in England: 

  • The current lack of capacity in hospital eye services (HES) must be addressed through effective eye care pathways into and out of hospital. This will ensure that all available capacity in primary and community care, including those of optometrists and dispensing opticians, is used effectively
  • The COVID-19 crisis showcased the role of primary and community care optometrists as ‘first contact’ healthcare providers for eye health, taking the pressure off hospital eye care services. We have a unique opportunity to build on these achievements to address the capacity issues in HES and build a cost-effective, joined up, clinically safe and sustainable eye care service
  • One of the main barriers to better integration between primary and community care is the lack of digital/IT connectivity between and within primary, community and secondary care, and a lack of access to shared care records for patients. Currently, primary and community eye care services are not universally digitally connected to secondary care services. An NHS-wide e-referral system is being developed and we, at The College, are ready to work with NHS England to develop a solution which can be funded and rolled out at scale to benefit patients, the NHS and taxpayer
  • All primary care providers, including optometrists, should be directly involved in the design, delivery and leadership of more integrated services for local populations in every Integrated Care System (ICS) area, particularly at Board level
  • Optometrists play an important role in providing joined-up healthcare services for patients between primary and community care. These include glaucoma filtering and monitoring schemes, domiciliary eye care, school vision services and special school eye care, or signposting to other types of services, such as falls prevention services, smoking cessation or weight loss and alcohol services.

Speaking at the House of Lords, Daniel Hardiman-McCartney said: “It was an honour to have the opportunity to represent our profession at the House of Lords. At this time of great challenges and opportunities for NHS England, it is essential to make sure that patients continue to receive effective, quality care and we believe that optometrists should be at the heart of patient-centred eye care in England. The core capabilities of optometrists create a flexible and ready workforce, which can contribute to effective, integrated multidisciplinary patient care in primary, community and secondary care and it was a pleasure to be in the position to highlight that to the Committee.”

Related further reading

How women are taking the lead In optometry and changing the face of the profession.

A message from Leon Davies, College President