In a pivotal moment for the field of optometry, the Association of Optometrists (AOP) is championing a call for innovative solutions and a unified national approach in the development of a new standard service specification for minor and urgent eyecare in the UK. The Parliamentary under secretary of state for Primary Care and Public Health, Neil O’Brien, has extended an invitation to the Local Optical Committee Support Unit (LOCSU) and the Clinical Council for Eye Health (CCEHC) to spearhead the creation of this crucial service.
AOP’s Chief Executive, Adam Sampson, sees this request as a landmark moment, emphasizing the commitment of AOP to support LOCSU and CCEHC throughout this process. Sampson stresses the importance of a rapid and pragmatic development of the service specification, while simultaneously underscoring that ambition must not be sacrificed. According to him, “bold thinking” is essential to ensure that the services offered and the associated pricing structure are not only sustainable for optometry but also aligned with the evolving needs of an ageing population.
Crucially, Sampson highlights the imperative that the standard service specification should be universally accessible. Currently, commissioning of eyecare services exhibits significant variability across different regions, creating what he describes as a “postcode lottery” for eye care. The AOP firmly advocates for a national approach to eradicate this disparity and establish a more standardized and equitable system for eye care services throughout the country.
As the development of this new standard service specification unfolds, the AOP stands as a steadfast ally, committed to fostering a transformation in eyecare that is both ambitious and accessible. By joining forces with LOCSU and CCEHC, the AOP aims to contribute to a future where eye care is not only comprehensive and sustainable for optometry professionals but also universally available to all, putting an end to the geographic disparities that currently exist in the provision of eye care services.