A General Election has been called for December 12, which is a great opportunity for you to raise issues that matter to you with candidates and parties that may go on to form the next government.
BIOS will be contacting the health leads in all of the major parties to urge them to commit to taking action to support orthoptists and improve the provision of eye care services. However, you can act too by raising these issues with your local candidates, either while they are canvassing or on social media.
Our key asks
We have focused on three key asks for this campaign, which we feel will make real difference to the orthoptic profession, and support them to offer high quality eye care services:
- Support and expand the orthoptic profession. Orthoptists play a vital role across the NHS, diagnosing and treating visual defects in a wide range of patients. Government should act to guarantee access to orthoptic expertise in all appropriate settings. For example, all stroke rehabilitation teams should have an orthoptist to assess vision and support patients to manage their vision defects.
- Reintroduce NHS bursaries for allied health professions (AHP) courses. The orthoptic profession is under significant threat, with a deficit between the number of orthoptists practising or training and the projected number needed to meet future healthcare demand. Health Education England has categorised orthoptics as a “vulnerable profession”. The reintroduction of bursaries would support students from all backgrounds to study orthoptics.
- Make orthoptic-led vision screening mandatory across England. Screening at 4-5 years old detects amblyopia (commonly known as “lazy eye”), where the vision in one or both eyes doesn’t develop properly. It is estimated that 1 in 50 children will develop this condition and if left untreated, can result in lifelong and irreversible reduced vision. While orthoptic led vision screening is offered to all children in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, provision in England is much less consistent. A mandatory national screening programme would ensure that all children receive the same care when they need it, regardless of where they live.
You can read the full letter here (member only).
What you can do
Candidates will be more accessible than ever over the next month – canvassing door-to-door, visiting hospitals and other services, trying to increase their exposure on social media. Take this opportunity to raise these issues and encourage them to support them if in Government.
Try to discuss issues in your constituency: talk about the situation in your area or within your department. In an election, politicians will be particularly sensitive to issues that affect their voters.
Do let us know what you’ve been up to by dropping an email to Rich Huzzey, BIOS Policy Officer at firstname.lastname@example.org
We’ve also drawn together a few resources that may help:
- Find out who your local candidates are here
- Our guide to writing to your elected representatives
- More details on our vision screening campaign
- Members can find more resources and advice on our My Eyes My Orthoptist page and in the members’ area
- Read the King’s Fund’s work on health and social care issues ahead of the 2019 General Election