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Background

The UK Eye Care Services Study was commissioned by the College of Optometrists to investigate the organisation of eye care services in the UK. The study comprised of two phases:

  • Phase 1 was a systematic review of the literature (Hawley et al, 2011)
  • Phase 2 was a survey of the organisation of eye care services in one geographical region, the West Midlands Strategic Health Authority (WMSHA).

The Phase 2 survey was intended as a pilot survey to test methods of data collection relating to the organisation and delivery of eye healthcare. Accordingly, several different methods of data collection were used: interviews, focus groups, discussion groups and a questionnaire. This pilot survey was carried out to inform the design and development of a third phase, which would be to study the organisation of eye care services throughout the UK. 

Aims and objectives

Aims

  • To identify the roles played by optometrists in a specific area of the UK and under service delivery models, currently active or planned for future implementation within the region.
     
  • To develop an appropriate approach to gathering data from relevant organisations and individuals throughout the UK by piloting the process of gathering data within a single region.

Objectives

  • To develop appropriate methods and tools for gathering data relating to the organisation and delivery of eye care.
     
  • To identify key individuals and roles within NHS bodies (including SHA, PCTs, CRNs) and other relevant organisations and to identify key organisations and stakeholders in the eye care sector.
     
  • To carry out a pilot study in one geographical area as preparation for a UK-wide survey of eye healthcare. 

Conclusion

The survey provided important information on the organisation of eye care services in the West Midlands. It is recommended that the survey is extended to the whole of the UK to create a more complete picture of the role of optometrists.

Most optometrists carry out procedures additional to the standard GOS eye examination. However, only one third of optometrists surveyed said that they have an extended role in the provision of eye care. There is clearly scope for increasing the role of the optometrist and the involvement of optometrists in the organisation of eye care services. The current reorganisation of all health services, and the particular emphasis on community-centred care, should provide an opportunity for optometrists to redefine their role as professionals at the centre of community-based eye care services. 

This project led to the commissioning of the College's Enhanced Scheme Evaluation Project.

Number of patients seen by their practice in a typical month

Other resources of interest

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