Hairdressers refer more patients for eye cancers than optometrists, the NOC heard last week (In Focus page 6), so should the optical profession be doing something about that?

Delegates at the National Optical Conference are generally the type of practitioners that want to see the profession medicalised and retail optics become a fully integrated primary eye service. The cancer quote won’t have come as a surprise to many but the fact that hairdressers are responsible for more eye cancer referrals that optometrists has got to sting a bit.

Pretty much everyone has their hair cut, and on a fairly regular basis. Hairdressers are looking at the eye and its surroundings so will see a host of skin cancers. Are hairdressers paid to do this? No. Are there referral pathways between Supercuts and the local NHS clinical commissioning group? No. Is the NHS likely to pay hairdressers? No. They just do it.

Locsu has a great track record of practical action in the move to primary eyecare status. Its agreement with Newmedica creates a national framework for primary and secondary care to work together. This was created by optics and presented to the CCGs. Actions really do speak louder than words.

It’s nice to hear that Locsu has a new logo and a five year plan but suggesting more money might unlock work from the CCGs is worrying. If that is the case the millions already paid in subscriptions to the associations and the College should be made available as there is no greater prize for optometry than full inclusion in primary care and those bodies should fund it.

The biggest hope for inclusion in primary care is through action on the ground. This may often be unpaid, but to change attitudes optometrists may have to just do it.