The UK's first ever Vision Strategy launched this April is beginning to make an impact, with elements being adopted in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, according to Lesley-Anne Alexander, chief executive of the RNIB and chair of the UK Vision Strategy Strategic Advisory Group.
Speaking to Optician, Alexander explained that a lot of work had been going on behind the scenes since the major launch to ensure that the UK Vision Strategy is embedded into NHS thinking and commissioning processes of all four countries.
'We are working with the DoH in England and governments in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales to make sure that the UK Vision Strategy is at the centre of their planning,' she said, adding that in Scotland the strategy had been adopted and rechristened the Scottish Vision Strategy. 'This is exactly what we wanted to happen. They have put the aims of the Vision Strategy at the centre of the eye care review in Scotland.'
In England the roll-out of the Vision Strategy has been more complex because of the nature of localised commissioning. 'In England we were never envisaging that there would be a grand roll-out as such,' explained Alexander, saying that groups of interested stakeholders had been set up in the different regions to ensure delivery of its aims.
'For example, in Leeds there is a thriving Vision Strategy group that has brought together all the people involved in the sight loss journey to ensure that people don't fall through the gaps.'
Alexander added: 'The way health spending is devolved in England makes it difficult for a potential government to have a real impact on a local level and that's why in England it is so important to have the local level groups.'
In terms of other major successes following the implementation of the UK Vision Strategy, Alexander points to the decision by National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) to make Lucentis (ranibizumab) available to patients with wet AMD in England.
'The aim of the strategy is avoid prevent avoidable sight loss and we have taken huge strides in this respect by ensuring that NICE allows treatment for wet AMD.' She said.