BIOS welcomes the publication of the Interim NHS People Plan on Monday and its recognition of the need to provide strong backing to the NHS workforce if they are to deliver on the Long Term Plan. However, the plan still lacks sufficient detail to show how these positive ambitions can be realised, particularly without any substantial increase in funding.

In particular, we were encouraged by the continued focus on increasing recruitment to undergraduate courses in orthoptics, and other shortage professions. The orthoptics profession has already seen progress in this through the Office for Students funded Strategic Interventions in Health Disciplines (SIHED). However, with the decline in student number following the removal of NHS bursaries we are keen to see what further support will be available.

The plan also makes commitments to develop AHP faculties to work to expand clinical placement activity and further develop advanced practice roles. In the orthoptics profession we have made significant progress in the development of advanced and extended roles already and would welcome the opportunity to further develop the skills and experience within the profession.

Veronica Greenwood, BIOS Chair said “The Interim NHS People Plan represents a positive commitment to providing the support necessary for the NHS workforce to deliver on the Long Term Plan. Orthoptists have the skills and experience to deliver on many of the core goals of the Plan. For example, eye care must be recognised as central to the prevention agenda; orthoptists do vital work in areas such as rehabilitation and reducing falls in older people, and providing school vision screening services to ensure that children get the best start in life.

“A renewed effort to counter falling recruitment and to support orthoptists to further develop their skills as part of multidisciplinary teams will be of great help. However more detail is required before we can start to see the likely impact of these plans.”

If you are interested in finding out more:

  • You can read the full Interim NHS People Plan here.

  • Read BIOS’s position on Advanced and Extended roles here.

  • Workforce planning requires accurate data. Make sure your’s is correct with our guide to ESR data.