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Picketing Parliament

In the lead-up to the forthcoming UK general election, ophthalmologists and other eye health and sight loss stakeholders are being urged to lobby their local parliamentary candidates, using the UK Vision Strategy Manifesto and accompanying lobbying guide to support their position. As well as having a devastating impact on people’s lives, sight loss is currently costing the UK nearly £22 billion a year through direct, indirect and burden-of-disease costs. It’s an issue that concerns every parliamentary candidate, with an average of 3,000 people living with sight loss in every parliamentary constituency.

The UK Vision Strategy Manifesto was put together by leading eye health organizations in the UK, including the Royal College of Ophthalmologists, the Royal College of Nursing Ophthalmic Forum and the Royal National Institute of Blind People. The manifesto and lobbying guide have been designed to take into consideration the extremely tough public expenditure environment in the UK, where health and social care budgets are tighter than ever before and a considerable strain is being placed on eye health and sight loss services. To remediate this, UK Vision Strategy partners, including the ophthalmic health community, are calling for the next government to prioritize and invest in providing high-quality services across the eye care patient pathway.

The manifesto sets out six key interventions to save sight and deliver improved quality of life for people with sight loss. Each intervention offers benefits that will far outweigh its cost. For instance, each year more than 300,000 cost-effective operations are carried out on the NHS to remove cataracts. Cost-effective treatments are also available for wet AMD, diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma. By having these treatments readily available through the NHS, money would be saved in the long term through preventing unnecessary sight loss. There is also a need to promote better understanding of the importance of eye health across the population and to improve the uptake of regular vision tests for older, disabled and socially disadvantaged groups – measures that increase the early detection and treatment of eye conditions.

Katherine Raven, senior manager at UK Vision Strategy, commented on the manifesto, “Nearly two million adults, children and young people in the UK are living with a serious sight problem, and without decisive action, this is set to double by 2050. The general election presents an important opportunity for the ophthalmology community to work together and lobby parliamentary candidates to drive forward the big eye health and sight loss issues in the next Parliament.”

The ophthalmology community is invited to hear more about the UK Vision Strategy Manifesto and other key issues affecting the profession at the 7th annual Vision UK 2015 conference. Titled “Working together to deliver the UK Vision Strategy,” the conference will be held on June 18, 2015 at Central Hall, Westminster, London, UK. This year’s event will feature a two-stream format, with one entitled “Making the case for improving eye health” and the other aimed at “Transforming patient care to ensure timely treatment and support,” both issues of particular relevance to the ophthalmology profession.

Read the UK Vision Strategy Manifesto in full
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