College response to Actus’ article in Optician, December 15, 2017.

Is Actus suggesting that the College is holding back the profession by providing it with a range of recognised qualifications that extend well beyond core competencies (Actus: Holding the sector back, December 15, 2017)?

The College provides a growing range of popular courses, at various levels, in medical retina, contact lenses, glaucoma, IP, paediatrics and low vision. We do this so optometrists can deliver the best care for patients, in whatever setting they work, and in order that optometrist’s vital role in eye health delivery is recognised by other health professionals and commissioners.

Our training and qualifications are intended to provide the profession with the tools it needs to keep up-to-date, whether individuals choose to deliver routine eye examinations, provide extended services or to specialise in a particular subject area.

We do not suggest that every optometrist has to undertake every higher qualification, but by developing a range of courses, in line with the developing profession and our own member’s requests and identified need, optometrists can either choose to equip themselves to deliver extended services or simply improve their knowledge and understanding, and build their confidence in specific areas.

Optometry is not unusual in this. In fast changing times, all health professionals need to have the necessary qualifications and experience in their chosen areas of practice – revalidation for doctors is one example of this.

The College wants even more services delivered in the community and we work hard through the Clinical Council for Eye Health Commissioning, along with the other bodies in the sector, to try to achieve this. Widely recognised professional qualifications, as well as developing the evidence for the efficacy of these schemes which the College is also delivering, are also critical to making this happen.