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Improving eye health and reducing sight loss, a call to action

13 Jun 2014

Patients, professionals and the public are being invited to have their say by NHS England, in a debate around the provision of eye health services.

'The NHS belongs to us all: a call to action' was launched last July and set out the challenges faced by the NHS; those of an ageing population with complex conditions against a backdrop of financial constraints. Since then, separate ‘call to action’ engagements have been held for general practice, community pharmacy and NHS dental services. The final strand of the campaign will focus on improving eye health and the provision of NHS eye health services. The consultation will run until 12 September 2014.

Many long term conditions, such as diabetes and dementia, pose a significant risk to eye health. The projected increase in the elderly population and the number of people with multiple long term conditions has a knock on effect on long term planning for eye care. If not tackled properly, poor provision at a primary care level is likely to increase pressures elsewhere in the health and social care system.

It’s estimated that partial sight and blindness in adults costs the UK economy around £22 billion per year. This final 'Call to Action' will focus on a more preventative approach, early accurate detection by primary care services and effective management in the community.

To achieve that NHS England wants the public, patients, and professionals to engage with the 'call to action' and help review the current system to inform and develop a long term sustainable plan.

NHS England is aware that particular groups can experience difficulties in accessing appropriate health care services including eye health services. These include people with mental health issues; frail, elderly people; people with physical or learning disabilities and homeless people.

Dr Mike Bewick, NHS England’s Deputy Medical Director, said: “Preventing eye disease and promoting early detection of eye disease through improved access and uptake for routine eye tests are key components of this call to action. Ensuring that patients receive the most appropriate care at the most appropriate time and in the most appropriate location is also vital.”

Anita Lightstone, UK Vision Strategy Programme Director and VISION 2020 UK Chief Operations Officer, said: "We are delighted to welcome the consultation 'Improving Eye Care - A Call to Action' and congratulate NHS England on providing this much needed spotlight on eye care.  We encourage all stakeholders involved in receiving or delivering eye care to have their say so we can work together to ensure the needs of eye care patients and people with sight loss can be met now and in the future".



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