Bill Harvey: And we moved together...
Author: Bill Harvey
As was so eloquently pointed out last year in the OPO by Rob Harper and John Lawrenson (https://doi.org/10.1111/opo.12585 ), there is no obvious need for increasing numbers of entry-level qualified optometrists.
Indeed, the springing up of new optometry degree courses throughout the UK may lead to an oversupply – ‘an expansion that may not be in either the interest of the public seeking eyecare, the regulator with responsibility for public protection, optometry professionals or the wider profession.’
A government review came out last week, highlighting the future risk of a shortage in some clinical professions unless there was ‘an expansion of non-European skilled work visas.’ The review from the migration advisory committee (MAC) said psychologists, occupational therapists and vets, were among the professions that should be added to the official shortage occupation list. The MAC claimed that Brexit uncertainty and the resulting reduction in EU migration was one of the two main factors cited by employers, the other being growing demand.
Interestingly, the professions assessed included ‘ophthalmic opticians,’ a term I have not seen for many years. It makes you wonder again how peripheral our profession is on the government radar. The review concluded that no shortage in OOs existed in the UK – despite cited stakeholder evidence (from Boots alone) of ongoing vacancies in some regions requiring a reliance on locums.
On safer ground, my recent rant about a need to think of psychological status when dealing with sight loss was reinforced this week with a report in JAMA Ophthalmology which found (yet again) ‘that there is a significant bidirectional and longitudinal association between self-reported VI and mental health symptoms’ and suggesting a need for better handling of mental illness by eyecare professionals. Maybe the many undergraduate courses can justify their existence by including appropriate training here?