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The Royal College of Ophthalmologists responds to the HEE Workforce consultation

28 March 2018

Health Education England (HEE), the body responsible for overseeing training of the NHS workforce, has begun developing its first ever system-wide strategy for delivering the NHS and social care workforce for the next two decades. They published a first draft of the strategy for consultation which we and other health and care organisations responded to.

We welcomed the move as the start of a joined-up sector-wide conversation about the future of the workforce and were pleased to see that ophthalmology was recognised for successes in effectively using non-medical healthcare professionals to support the ophthalmologist-led hospital service in the face of resource restraints. However, we pointed out that this approach alone will not address gaps in staffing and the need to explore in more detail the role and supply of UK consultants, SAS doctors and overseas staff.

We also highlighted several issues that Members report to us, including:

  • Insufficient Supporting Professional Activity (SPA) time to cover the substantial non-clinical activity that ophthalmologists increasingly undertake. We called for proper recognition of this activity through adequate time and appropriate training where relevant.
  • Widespread feeling that hospital managers need better understanding of eye services and to work more effectively with medical staff to resolve issues.
  • Persistent difficulties recruiting staff to some locations, including rural areas and the North, which must be taken into consideration as part of developing an effective workforce strategy.

HEE are now assimilating all the responses provided and will publish their analysis and next steps in the coming months. We will remain engaged in the conversation as it develops, to ensure that the challenges facing the ophthalmic workforce are represented and addressed as part of this comprehensive approach to workforce planning.

View the HEE Consultation document and read the response from The Royal College of Ophthalmologists.