09 August 2023
FODO member update – Wales
Further to our last update on Wales on 28 July, please note the following information and advice.
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We advise all members in Wales to read this update in full and to scroll to page 4 to register to keep directly abreast of new contact news in Wales.
Many Welsh members have contacted us following an email from Health Education and Improvement Wales (HEIW) asking practices to take urgent action to ensure all optometrists have EHEW accreditation by October 2023.
Please note: the Welsh Government's consultation clarified that the new WGOS2 would be equivalent to the current EHEW accreditation level and that around 95% of optometrists in Wales were already accredited . So, in most cases, you will not have to take any urgent action.
However, you should ensure you have up-to-date information on who is now EHEW accredited so you can organise any necessary training promptly.
This has also been confirmed by NHS Wales in its first WGOS newsletter published today.
If you have any questions or concerns about the latest HEIW statement or the WGOS newsletter, please contact us at [email protected].
Welsh Government promotes children's eye tests this summer
The Welsh Government has launched a new campaign encouraging parents to visit their local optician to get their children's eyes tested.
Minister for health and social services Eluned Morgan has recommended "all parents and carers to get their child's eyes tested this summer ahead of the new school year". She added that "optometrists are experts in eye health".
The press release omits to mention, however, Welsh Government's plans to reduce the value of patient benefits in 99% of voucher claims, which is likely to limit the choice for children and families that depend on means-tested benefits.
Wales faces tidal wave of blindness
The BBC reports a senior ophthalmologist in Wales warning the country faces a "tidal wave of blindness" unless urgent improvements are made to how specialist eye care is delivered.
This claim comes after Welsh Government statistics showed 75,000 are at risk of sight loss due to delays in hospital care.
Gwyn Williams, president of the Royal College of Ophthalmologists in Wales, told the BBC that ophthalmology struggled to meet needs before Covid. However, he said it had "no hope without innovative ideas and substantial investment in services infrastructure and new ways of working". Mr Williams added that Wales faced the risk of a "tsunami of blindness across the whole country unless we are able to reorganise".
Nathan Owen, external affairs manager for RNIB Cymru, told the BBC that delays in hospital eye care services "are having a profound effect on the lives of many thousands of people in Wales". He said the charity had heard from people "terrified at home watching television, experiencing a deterioration while waiting for their next appointment".
The Welsh government said it plans to transform eye care services, enabling "optometrists on the high street to manage, monitor and treat an increased number of eye conditions so people can receive eye care in the community earlier".
 Welsh Government Consultation Document Consultation on the reform of primary care ophthalmic services, https://www.gov.wales/sites/default/files/consultations/2023-04/consultation-document_4.pdf, p. 10.