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23 January 2024

Keynote speech calls for expansion of enhanced primary eye care services

At the Institute for Government (IfG) annual conference today, Karin Smyth MP, shadow health minister, said the Labour party is committed to working in partnership with the eye care sector to cut waiting lists and to provide more convenient care for patients.

Speaking at the event, Karin Smyth said Labour was committed to doing more out of hospital and closer to home. Talking about eye care, she said people who wait too long for hospital appointments risk losing their sight. She said Labour would "seek to negotiate a deal with high street opticians to deliver outpatient appointments". 

FODO has welcomed this call to do more in primary eye care, reduce pressure on ophthalmology and prevent avoidable sight loss in England.

Harjit Sandhu, managing director at FODO, said: "Hospital colleagues in ophthalmology are under unsustainable pressure and patients are suffering avoidable sight loss due to delays in care. Primary eye care providers are happy to help in any way we can to provide more care outside of hospital and closer to home. Working together we can meet growing patient needs in a more sustainable way and most importantly help prevent sight loss due to delays in care."

Today's statement at the IfG aligns with FODO's Principles and priorities for primary eye care, which calls for more to be done to ensure patients can access the right care in the right place at the right time to tackle avoidable sight loss.

Harjit explained: "The national sight testing service is a vital part of the national public health infrastructure and one of the most efficient and successful parts of the NHS, which must be preserved. We all want to build on this solid foundation, making the best use of our highly skilled workforce and world-class primary eye care infrastructure. Now is the time to work together to ensure everybody in England can access the enhanced primary eye care services they need."

Note for editors
FODO - the Association for Eye Care Providers is the leading national association for eye care providers working in primary and community care settings in the UK. Our members are committed to high-quality eye care for all and provide over 18 million eye examinations and a wide range of other eye care services each year.

Principles and priorities for eye care recognises that the UK has one of the world's most advanced primary eye care services. It calls for more to be done to ensure patients can access the right care in the right place at the right time to tackle avoidable sight loss.

Karin Smyth is the Labour MP for Bristol South. She has been an MP continuously since 7 May 2015. She is currently the shadow minister (health).



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