Lesley-Anne Baxter, Outgoing Chair of BIOS & BOSTU speaks to Motion 46 at the TUC Congress, Liverpool this week..... here is the text of her address...
"President, Congress, Lesley-Anne Baxter, British Orthoptic Society, supporting Motion 46
We hear, almost daily, that we cannot afford the public services that we have built up over years and held as exemplar services across the world in many cases. We have heard from the mover of this motion of the chaos and confusion they are seeing as private companies organise services which cannot compare to the gold standard of their service organisation.
The amendment to this motion asks for evidence to show that private companies can provide better services.
I work in eye health and the National Screening Committee this year has provided an evidence base to show that an Orthoptic led vision screening service for all children aged 4 to 5 years is essential to promote eye health and pick up eye problems. BUT, the localisation of health in England means that this pot of money is easy pickings and these services are not being commissioned in some areas and being decommissioned in others. This post code lottery of service provision cannot be regarded as the governments goal of innovation and improvement.
There is good evidence available showing that those children in care, those with learning disabilities, those, in the governments words who are " easy to loose" are much more likely to have undiagnosed eye conditions.
There is evidence to show that those living in social deprivation do not access health services as and when they need so screening in schools is essential in all these groups.
we also know that if eye problems are not picked up by the age of 7, education can be compromised, and we also know that up to 30% of the prison population have uncorrected eye problems. SO it is essential that that those vulnerable children in care,have access to Orthoptic led vision screening, commissioned locally and paid for by the NHS. The argument against this is that parents will take their child to the local optician on the high street. That is great but we know that those in care and those with any other disability do not access the health care they deserve and are easy to loose in a system provided by a plurality of providers.
This government has a Call to Action for Eye Health out for consultation at this time and already submitted is that there is no evidence to show that private companies can provide services cheaper than already commissioned NHS taser vices
We support this motion to ensure children's services are provided by those who can provide evidence, audit, governance and accountability that we in the public sector already adhere to."