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The Guardian publishes RCOphth Lay Advisory Group letter concerning junior doctor contract

20 April 2016

The RCOphth Lay Advisory Group (LAG) are a group of volunteers actively involved in the work of the RCOphth.  They include members who have some or no previous background in health or eye matters, including related organisations and some have been or are eye patients.  The group also includes clinician members of the RCOphth including the President. While the Lay Advisory Group is not a patient lobby group it expresses views based on public and patient experience of health and eye care services.

As the voice of the patient, the RCOphth Lay Advisory Group felt compelled to write a public letter concerning the junior doctor contract and the impact this is having for the profession, the public and the NHS overall. The full version is as follows:

Dear Sir,

I write as chair of the Lay Advisory Group of the Royal College of Ophthalmologists (RCOphth), an independent group of volunteers who are actively involved in the work of the RCOphth for the benefit of patients. We have generally experienced both the best of services the NHS is capable of and sometimes those services that have not met the needs of patients.

We recognise that the NHS is under immense pressure to provide adequate services. The RCOphth has highlighted that people are losing vision because hospitals are unable to provide follow-up appointments within a safe time period.  In addition, 30% of consultant ophthalmologist positions advertised last year remain unfilled – putting further pressure on an already overstretched service. 

We call on the government to support a sustainable NHS by recognising that chronic inadequate funding is leading to unsafe practices and poor staff morale, most recently evidenced by junior doctors’ frustration at the new contract. If the impasse is not broken quickly a whole generation, who should be the future of the NHS, will be demotivated and more patients will be put at serious risk. We urge that all parties come together so that our public health services adequately meet the needs of all patients.

Mr Tom Bremridge, Chair
Lay Advisory Group

An edited version of the letter was published on the Guardian website.