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The Royal College of Ophthalmologists regrets the lack of response to NHS England’s ‘Improving eye health and reducing sight loss Call to Action’

2 November 2015

The 2014 ‘Improving eye health and reducing sight loss Call to Action’ was designed to stimulate debate about how the NHS in England commissions and delivers eye health services.

330 organisations and individuals responded, enthused in part by the assurance of NHS England that “responses will be independently analysed and reported”. The Call to Action undoubtedly brought many aspects of the eye health sector together and we were able to highlight several areas of agreement regarding where services could be improved for the benefit of our patients and how we can work together to achieve this. Barriers to progress were also observed which would benefit from co-ordinated recognition and solutions.

However, we regret that NHS England have confirmed there are no current plans to publish a report on the Call to Action.  Therefore an opportunity to highlight the significant capacity issues that the ophthalmic sector faces has been missed, as has “A (shared) national vision that will deliver change …. locally by clinical commissioning groups, Health & Wellbeing Boards and other partners working with patients and the public” because no analysis of the responses has neither taken place nor been reported. This lack of response is a wasted opportunity that not only fails to acknowledge the valuable input of the very people who will be responsible for implementing any changes envisaged but also risks losing the findings from a comprehensive consultation process involving healthcare staff, key stakeholders and most importantly patients and the public.

We are therefore calling on NHS England to share the key findings of the consultation with RCOphth and other key organisations responsible for developing services, standards and guidelines to improve eye health.

The Royal College of Ophthalmologists, as the professional body for medically trained eye doctors, is ready to work with NHS England in order to optimise ophthalmic services and to enter into discussions with commissioners in order to promote a safe and efficient service as part of NHS England business plan for 2016/17.