I hope you all enjoyed the bank holiday and are feeling refreshed. I want to share with you a significant milestone we hit with the England Vision Strategy (EVS) just last week. I am proud to say we have held a regional event in each of the 12 regions we established in the last 12 months.
Over 400 people have attended the regional events which have brought together members from across the whole of the Eye Health and Sight Loss sector. I’m proud of the way the network has enabled key stakeholders to discuss what services need to be improved and to learn how we can best support local and regional structures to make this work.
Progress is at different stages in each region and a lot of work still needs to be done but the regional events are a great start and our EVS team are in active discussion with the regional groups to follow up. EVS is a framework that seeks to tie all the key services together, locally, regionally and nationally. We want to provide sensible ways in which people can work together on the six key priorities of the EVS.
The key priorities are:
- Detecting eye conditions early, especially in seldom heard groups;
- Promoting a consistent strategy for eye care commissioning;
- Improving the certification process – making sure people who are eligible actually get certified and registered and that relevant data flows through the whole eye health and sight loss pathway;
- Early intervention to ensure practical and emotional support post-diagnosis (for example, an ECLO available in every eye department);
- Habilitation and rehabilitation available on a free and timely basis for as long as needed to learn or relearn key life skills including mobility;
- Development of peer support and self-help groups in every community for adults, children and families to provide voluntary sector support for independent living and to lobby for inclusive local public services.
There is still a lot of work we need to do to engage many local authorities. It’s a big challenge, but we’re working on it!
On Friday, April 15 we also held the second EVS Consultative Group Meeting. I was pleased to see it was well attended by over 40 people from a wide range of organisations including local and national charities and eye health service providers and there was great enthusiasm for the EVS. There was a lot of discussion about wanting to celebrate and share success stories, and about how the different organisations and regions can learn from and help each other.
Our new EVS Regional Managers will be working with Local Eye Health Network Chairs, Visionary regional groups and others to follow up in each of the regions to find out what’s been happening, what the success stories are and where more help is needed.
I look forward to keeping you updated on progress and sharing more success stories.