Glaucoma Referral Refinement
We are nearly there! The proposal has been passed by Stormont to allow Community Optometrists with Special Interests (COSI s) to manage low risk glaucoma cases within the community. Training is in the process of being set up for those Community Optometrists who wish to participate. The new Glaucoma Centre on the Shankill Road is up and running and a job description is in the process of being approved for any optometrists who wishes to apply to work in one of the sessions. An equipment grant will be available to help bring equipment up to specified standard for Optometric Practices which pay the Levy.
Electronic Referral Pilot Scheme
A pilot scheme on electronic referral was carried out for 10 weeks in the Southern Health Trust Area in May/June/July. A total of ten practices participated having been selected at random, to represent a range of practice profiles including independent and multiples. High resolution images of the patient’s retina were encrypted and sent to the hospital ophthalmology department by secure data transfer. The image was then assessed by an ophthalmologist and a decision taken as to whether a hospital appointment is necessary.
Community Acute Eye Service
In December, Helen Knox, David Barnes, Andrew Petticrew and Sara Ball went to Stormont. They presented a proposal to the Health Committee which included plans to include and use the community optometrist for the treatment of patients with red eye or minor injury to the eye. The proposal was to educate the public to the fact that the community optometrist should be the first port of call in an emergency (e.g. foreign body in eye). This would reduce pressure on Hospital Eye Service, cut down on travel time and have continuity of care for the patient in a local environment. The presentation was given in a short play with role playing, including hard hats and high visibility jackets!
New Voucher Values
As you will be aware, the new voucher values have been announced and are currently with the Minister. The advice meantime is to stick to current values until the Business Services Organisation advises the profession otherwise.
Optometry NI continues to work hard for the benefit of optometrists and dispensing opticians in Northern Ireland. We are in consultation with the Department of Health working towards a new GOS contract. There has been a lot of positive comment regarding the benefits of an updated GOS contract, and while the bureacratic process is frustrating slow, but steady progress has been made.
Optometry NI has been lobbying politicans at the DUP and UUP party conferences. These have been successful and informative days and among other things, we have been able to set up a meeting with Jim Wells, the new Chairman of the Health committee.
Optometry NI has also been instrumental in setting up the Children’s Eyecare Advisory group. this is a mulidisplinary gathering of all clinicans involved in childrens’ eye care. A report from the chairman of this group, Fiona North, can be found in our annual newsletter.
The voluntary levy continues to gain support from optometric practices throughout Northern Ireland, and we would like to thank all of those who contribute. It is for the benefit of all optometrists in NI and we would encourage those that do not yet contribute to play their part in developing and advancing optometry in Northern Ireland.
Following the recent AOP awards, congratulations go to Alan McCandless and Michael Gilsenan (Lee Opticians, Warrenpoint). Alan and Michael beat opposition from around the UK and won their individual categories
Alan won the Community Achievement Award and Michael brings back the Dispensing Optician of the Year Award back to “our wee country”.
Helen Knox and Jim Wells MLA
National Eye Health Week June 2010
Optometry NI and the RNIB held a joint reception at Stormont to promote the importance of eye health and regular eye examinations. This was a National eye health week event, and MLA’s heard about the prevalence of sight loss in Northern Ireland, and the opportunities for Optometrists and dispensing opticians to contribute to better eye care in Northern Ireland. The following PDF summarises Optometry NI’s key points.