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Competency Framework

21 January 2016

Carrie MacEwen, on behalf of the RCOphth, has been working with the College of Optometrists (CoO), Royal College of Nursing (RCN), British and Irish Orthoptic Society (BIOS) and Association of Health Professions in Ophthalmology (AHPO) on developing a Competency Framework for expanded ophthalmic roles for Ophthalmic Nurses, Optometrists, Orthoptists and Ophthalmic Clinical Scientists.

Despite hospital eye services providing exceptional patient services, they are under continued increasing demand (an increase of 30% in eye clinic attendances over the last five years in England alone).  A lack of capacity means that healthcare professionals’ ability to offer patient care and treatment safely is being compromised. It is an issue that can no longer be ignored.

Patients are the focus of everything we do.  The professional bodies involved in developing the competency framework are asking commissioners, service providers and employers to work with them to ensure a flexible workforce, with the right skills and training and so able to deliver a service fit for the 21st century and overcome the capacity issues in hospital eye services.

Changes to the way eye care and treatment is delivered involves a number of professionals within a multi-disciplinary team. These clinicians; ophthalmic nurses, optometrists, orthoptists and ophthalmic clinical scientists, are recognised as autonomous practitioners within their own core profession. But they have absorbed practices which are common and multi-disciplinary and were previously the domain of medically qualified ophthalmologist.

The RCOphth, RCN, CoO, BIOS and AHPO recognise that these team members have taken on expanded roles beyond their core professional competences.  The competency framework will propose standardisation of education and training for this workforce.  This will enable those involved to competently take on expanded roles within a multi-disciplinary team, effectively delivering optimum patient care safely and within recognised competences, education and training.

The Competency Framework positioning statement, communicating the proposed development of the framework, covers all four countries in the UK and sets out the position and collaboration of the ophthalmic professional bodies.  It is being distributed to key stakeholders responsible for the development of training and education and provision of services.