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FODO Ireland’s Pre-Budget Submission for 2019

Thursday 2 August 2018

FODO Ireland has entered a submission to the Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform, Paschal Donohoe TD ahead of the government’s 2019 budget. Our submission makes several key recommendations to improve the eye health of the people of Ireland, whilst also giving value for money for the State. These recommendations are crucial for ensuring that the Irish optical sector can meet the growing eye health demands of the Irish population and avoid unnecessary visual impairments. You can access the full submission here.

 

Optical professionals point the way forward for eye care in Ireland



Wednesday 4 July 2018

More than 83 percent of optometrists and dispensing opticians in Ireland are ready and willing to take on new, expanded clinical roles in order to meet eye health needs and to tackle the increasingly long waiting lists for care, particularly for children, according to a new survey of the optical workforce in Ireland by FODO Ireland. 

FODO Ireland Chair Garvan Mulligan said: “The positive attitude in the profession that this survey demonstrates is good news. However, optical professionals need to be freed up so that they can provide the services they are trained to deliver, especially for children where long hospital waiting lists are leading to life-long impairments. This is an unacceptable situation given that alternatives are at hand.”

The research also showed an urgent need for expansion of training places for optometrists and dispensing opticians to meet future needs. 

FODO Ireland Chief Executive David Hewlett said: “Nearly half the optometrists surveyed graduated outside of Ireland, many coming from the UK. This is not sustainable. We urgently need more home-grown graduates and post graduates so that we become self-sufficient in meeting our own eye health workforce needs.” 

Key findings from the survey include:

  • A large majority would like to make greater use of their full range of skills – 83% of the optometrists and 88% of the dispensing opticians.
  • 47% reported that they obtained their qualification in the UK – which emphasises how reliant the Irish optical sector has been on UK universities.
  • 66% of the professional respondents were female (this proportion was higher again amongst student respondents – 76%), reflecting the shifting demographics of the workforce.
  • 23% of professional respondents intend to take a break from the optical sector in the next 5 years.
    • Of these, 62% will be taking parental leave, 23% will be seeking a career change and 15% will be retiring.  
  • A high proportion of students, 82%, saw their chances of gaining employment in the first 12 months after they graduate as being very high; reflecting the current demand in Ireland for trained optical professionals and low supply of local graduates.

FODO Ireland’s Garvan Mulligan explained: “We will be sharing our data with the Department of Health and the Department of Education and Skills.We need them to take action: training places need to be expanded and universities properly funded for the clinical training they provide. Optometry and optics have developed rapidly over the past twenty years, far beyond the technical qualifications the current funding system was originally designed to support. We need high calibre optometrists and opticians home-grown in Ireland to meet our country’s needs. FODO is keen to play its full part with partners in achieving that goal.” 

 The survey, carried out in March 2018, covered 8.6% of the optometrists and 10% dispensing optician workforce in Ireland, and also included students of the optometry and dispensing optician degrees at the Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT). FODO helped to set up the first training programme for dispensing opticians in Ireland with DIT in 2013.      

The survey report can be accessed here.

 

Healthy Eyes Awareness Week 2018


Monday 15 January 2018  

Eye exams ‘as essential as a regular trip to the dentist’  - Public  encouraged to have eye exam every two years 

Having an eye test at least every two years is as essential as regular trips to the Dentist, say optical experts.  

Adults and their children should ‘pledge to have an eye test’ every two years to ensure they protect their vision as part of their normal health routine.

That’s the message of the Healthy Eyes campaign which takes place this week, led by the Association of Optometrists Ireland (AOI) and the Federation of Ophthalmic and Dispensing Opticians (FODO) Ireland.

Healthy Eyes encourages everyone who has not had their eyes checked in the past two years to visit their local optical practice for an examination. Information and promotions will be available across the country this week through local Optometrists and Opticians (Monday 15 January - Sunday 21 January).

To support Healthy Eyes Awareness Week, the AOI and FODO Ireland are encouraging people to post a photograph of themselves on social media using the hashtag #EyePledge and holding the Healthy Eyes pledge card, which can be downloaded here.  

Further information and additional electronic resources can be found on the Healthy Eyes website at www.health-eyes.ie and via the campaign’s Twitter page @healthyeyes2018.

AOI Chief Executive Officer, Sean McCrave, said:

“Having an eye test at least once every two years is just as essential as a regular trip to the dentist to check that you or your children are in good health. An eye exam is not just to determine if you need glasses or contact lenses, it is a vital health check that can lead to the prevention of serious eye conditions.

“There is an increasing prevalence of sight-related problems due to an ageing population, and what is most important is early diagnosis. An Optometrist is ideally-placed to provide the care which people need, be it reassurance, fitting glasses or contact lenses, treatment of routine conditions, or monitoring of an existing condition.”

FODO Ireland Executive Chair, Garvan Mulligan, said:

“Our research shows that over half of people in Ireland have not had an eye exam in the last two years, which is the recommended period between check-ups. If at any stage people notice changes in the appearance of the eye, pain or discomfort they should see their local optical practice without delay. Children should also have an eye exam at least once every two years. Poor vision impacts on children’s learning in school, but this can be easily avoided through timely diagnosis.”

It was estimated that in 2010, 224,832 people in Ireland were suffering from visual impairment and this is expected rise to 271,996 by 2020 – a 21% increase. The economic cost of blindness and visual impairment in the Republic of Ireland was estimated at €2.1bn in 2010 and is expected to rise to €2.7bn by 2020, and yet 50% of visual impairment can be corrected if diagnosed and treated promptly.

FODO launches 'risk-based' CPD training packs in the UK and Ireland

FODO has launched the first in a series of peer discussion training resources focussed on the highest areas of risk in front-line clinical practice. 

The first pack, Flashes, Floaters and Retinal Detachment, was published on 10 May 2016 at the FODO AGM in London.  

FODO chair Lynda Oliver said, “FODO is all about meeting needs, whether it be for patients or practitioners.  Here we are doing both in response to requests from members in both the UK countries and in Ireland.

“There is plenty of CET and CPD around which is already very good and we have no desire to replicate that. Our aim is to innovate and to enhance learning. The FODO training packs will be focussed on the areas of highest risk in front-line clinical practice - especially ‘never-events’ - which we have identified through insurance claims and fitness to practise cases. 

“We already feed back claims data to FODO members in general and to individual companies on their own track record.  This new development takes this process to the next level, supporting universal ‘step change’ improvement across the sector.”

FODO professional advisor Professor Steve Taylor, who is designing the packs, said, “Although actual incidents are few, a small number of missed retinal detachments is unfortunately a recurring theme in front-line practice.  Our aim is to prevent this from happening across the board building on the excellent materials already developed by DOCET.” 

“Future packs in this series will focus on, for example, issues such as glaucoma risks and such perennials as avoiding hydrogen peroxide-based incidents in contact lens practice.”

Ann Blackmore, FODO’s Head of Policy and Strategy added, “The CPD packs developed by Steve are produced under the guidance of a senior clinical Steering Committee, trialled with facilitators and, as the programme becomes established will be tested in practice before being rolled out to members.  They are also ‘living resources’ in that all and any feedback from members is extremely helpful in helping us fine-tune our products to member needs.”

To find out more about the peer discussion training resources, please contact Ireland@fodo.com or call 020 7298 5151.

To read more and to download the new CPD packs please visit our CPD - Education section

Optical Express CPD event, Dublin

Optical Express has launched a free CPD Programme. Their next event will take place in Dublin on 23 June 2016 at 7pm and is open to all clinicians within the optical industry. The evening will include a lecture on modern day cataract surgery and peer review discussion worth a total of 2 CORU CPD credits (4 CET points). For more information about the event, please visit the Optical Express website.

FODO Ireland Members Update May 2016

New Government

On Friday the 6th May, An Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD appointed a new Cabinet. The key ministerial appointments for FODO members to be aware of include:

Minister for Health: Simon Harris TD (FG)

Minister for Social Protection: Leo Varadkar TD (FG)

Minister for Children: Katherine Zappone TD (Ind)

Minister for Disability: Finian McGrath TD (Ind)

FODO will be writing to each of the relevant Ministers this week to welcome them into their new role and highlight for them the key policy areas within their portfolios that affect the optical sector. The Government are also due to appoint several Junior Ministers this week, of which the new Minister for Primary Care will be of key importance for us and FODO will be seeking to meet with the new Minister as soon as possible to discuss the outcomes of the Primary Eyecare review.

The Programme for Government contains several very pertinent commitments around the Health sector, including:

  • Dismantling the HSE and replacing it with a Health Commission.
  • Updating the National Eyecare Plan, including the Sligo model for cataract surgery.
  • Funding for an additional 80 Primary Care centres to bring the number of PCCs to 124 by 2021.
  • Increasing the number of health professionals operating in PCCs to maximise the potential of services.
  • An Oireachtas All-Party Committee will develop a long term plan for the Health service for the next ten years. Health expenditure will be moved to multi-year budgeting supported by a 5 year service plan.

Given the fractured nature of the 32nd Dáil, Oireachtas committees are likely to be more powerful and influential than ever. FODO will be seeking to build strong and progressive relationships with all members of the incoming Health Committee, to maximise our influence and advocacy for the optical sector within Leinster House.

Policy developments

Update on the primary eyecare review

We have been informed by the HSE that the final draft of the report from the Primary Eyecare Review Group has now been submitted to the HSE Primary Care Senior Management Team and the HSE Leadership before being passed to the Department of Health for final approval. FODO will be keeping a very close watching brief on this and will update Members on any further developments.

PROTECTED TITLE

FODO wrote to the Minister for Health with our concerns about the implications of SI 51/2016 (Protected Title of ‘Optician’). We outlined our strong disagreement to limiting the use of the title to only one group of registrants to the detriment of a significant proportion of the registered optical professions in Ireland. We will continue to advocate about this to Minister Harris and opposition spokespeople in the Oireachtas until the regulations are satisfactory.

TAX CLEARANCE

Members should be aware that the Primary Care Reimbursement Service (PCRS) is required to confirm the Tax Clearance Status for all suppliers and service providers who receive payments greater than €10k in a 12 month period. PCRS are now required to check the current eTax Clearance status of suppliers and providers on ROS (Revenue Online Service).

Members who meet the criteria should ensure they have either a valid manual tax clearance certificate currently in date or have applied and received an eTax Clearance Certificate on ROS.

From 1st June, PCRS will be checking the Tax Clearance Status of all relevant recipients on a monthly basis through online data upload. Payment on account will be held until a Tax Clearance status has been confirmed by PCRS.

PRIMARY SCHOOL EYE TESTING

The HSE has sent letters primary school principals advising them that the primary school-exit eye screening programme (which provides eye examinations for pupils in fifth and sixth class) is being discontinued with immediate effect. The HSE states that there is no evidence that supports the effectiveness of the programme. In a statement it said that changes were underway “in order to provide more effective eye care for children and improve access to eye screening”. The HSE said that it was looking forward to working with optometrists to implement reform measures to eye care services over the coming months.

FODO Ireland will be monitoring closely whether the Primary Eye Care Review addresses the gap created by the withdrawal of the programme. We will be asking the HSE what measures they will be putting in place to ensure that children are provided with routine eye examinations throughout their childhood, emphasising the importance of early detection and treatment.

CPD

FODO has launched the first in a series of peer discussion training resources focussed on the highest areas of risk in front-line clinical practice.

The first pack ‘Flashes, Floaters and Retinal Detachment’ was published today at the FODO AGM in London.

We hope to run a session on how to lead a peer discussion at our member event on 15 June.

FODO members event – 15 June 2016, Dublin

The first FODO Ireland members event takes place in The Clarence Hotel, Dublin on Wednesday 15th June 6.30pm-8.00pm. Come and hear about the work of FODO Ireland and experience a taster of some of the planned CPD modules. It will also offer members a chance to meet and engage directly with FODO Ireland staff and network with fellow optometrists and opticians. Future roadshows are planned for members practicing in the West and South of Ireland. We encourage all members to attend and ask you to distribute information about the roadshow to your professional networks for any non-members who may be curious to join FODO Ireland.

For more information, or to register your interest in attending please contact daniel@fodo.com

New Policy and Member services Manager

FODO Ireland is delighted to welcome Daniel Carry as the new Policy and Member Services Manager. Daniel is a native of County Meath and joins FODO having worked previously for social research agency TNS-BMRB and with experience working in both the UK Parliament and the Oireachtas.

“I am very excited at the prospect of working with members to really develop and strengthen FODO Ireland’s place within the Irish optical sector and look forward to meeting with as many of you as possible over the coming months.” - Daniel

FODO Ireland welcomes new Government’s commitment to Health

A new Irish Government was appointed on Friday 6 May, with Simon Harris TD taking over the Health portfolio from Dr. Leo Varadkar TD who moves to the Department of Social Protection.

A draft Programme for Government outlined several key policy proposals that the incoming Government will prioritise.

Speaking in response to the appointment of the new Government, Ann Blackmore, Head of Policy and Strategy at FODO Ireland, said “We particularly welcome the Government’s commitment to update the National Eye Care Plan.

“The enhanced focus on primary care and the acknowledgement from the Government of the need to incorporate all health professions including optometrists and opticians into effective primary care provision is very positive.

“We look forward to working closely with Minister Simon Harris and the incoming Oireachtas committee on Health to ensure that community optometry and optician services are at the heart of primary eye care in Ireland.

“We also look forward to engaging with Minister Leo Varadkar on the re-instatement of the provision of optical services that were cut under the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (FEMPI) Act 2009.”

In Memorium – Giles Butler

It is with great sadness that we inform members of the sad death of FODO staff member Giles Butler. 

As many members will know, Giles worked with us for seven years managing the Optical Confederation Domiciliary Eyecare Committee and FODO Ireland as well as being the first manager of National Eye Health Week in the UK (secondment) and the Healthy Eyes campaign in Ireland.   

Giles had had several periods of ill health over the past three years but died at home of natural causes last weekend. 

David Hewlett said: “I know FODO members and everyone at 199 will remember Giles for his irrepressible good humour and his commitment to the causes of high quality domiciliary eye care and improving eye health both in the UK and Ireland. 

Members will also recall his dry and sardonic wit, his ability to reach out to members, the wider Optical Confederation and members of the public as well as his unfailing commitment to sort out problems wherever he could.   

“At 199 we will also all remember the fun times we had at parties and gatherings. He will be very sadly missed.”

Leo Varadkar tweets his support for Healthy Eyes campaign

LeoThe Minister for Health in Ireland shared his picture yesterday with his thousands of followers to help raise awareness of the importance of eye health.

Healthy Eyes Awareness Week takes place this week (18 -24 January) and is urging people to take action and commit to having regular eye exams as part of a healthy lifestyle.

As part of the campaign people are encouraged to take pictures of themselves holding the ‘eye pledge’ leaflet – and share on social media using the hashtag #eyepledge.

The ‘Healthy Eyes’ campaign is backed by three optical bodies;The Association of Optometrists Ireland (AOI) , The Federation of Ophthalmic and Dispensing Opticians (FODO)Ireland and The Irish Association of Dispensing Opticians (IADO).

Follow the Healthy Eyes campaign on Twitter and Facebook.