The developing role of optometrists as part of the NHS primary care team

18 November 2014
Volume 15, Issue 4

Primary care has a role in managing long-term conditions and minor ailments, and preventing people from requiring admittance to hospital.

Introduction

With the ageing population and resultant increasing demand for healthcare in the UK and other developed countries, there is recognition of the need to develop primary care to manage more long-term conditions and minor ailments and prevent people requiring admittance to hospital (Department of Health 2014; Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (NI) 2011; Scottish Executive 2007; Welsh Government 2011). 

An independent expert panel set up by the European Commission (2014) has argued strongly for a primary-care system that is ‘universally accessible, integrated, person-centred, comprehensive and provided by a team of professionals accountable for addressing a large majority of personal health needs’. A recent article outlined that this would require collaboration between general practitioners (GPs), nurses, dentists, pharmacists, psychologists, occupational therapists, optometrists and social workers (Lancet 2014). The publication We are Primary Care suggests that by working together there is far greater potential for preventing ill health and improving health and well-being rather than working apart (Optical Confederation 2014). 

This paper outlines the current landscape of primary eyecare in the UK, including the services that are being delivered, the planned framework and collaborations with other professionals.

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