Simon Jones: The week that was
Author: Simon Jones
It’s just over three weeks until the start of National Eye Health Week (NEHW), so I thought I would have a look at what events are going on and what the latest news was. To my dismay, there was only one event listed for the entire United Kingdom – well done to Tyrrells & Embery Optometrists in Blackburn for getting in early to let people know what they’ll be doing.
Clicking on news, I expected some updates as to what this year’s themes were and maybe a heads up on potential media appearances. Sadly, all I found was a ‘save the date’ press release from February.
Maybe the next few weeks at Vision Matters (the charity that operates NEHW) will be a hive of activity, with a swathe of events and news updates? Given how NEHW has been received by the public and practitioners in recent years, I doubt this will be the case.
In its current form, NEHW isn’t fit for purpose. I fully acknowledge the hard work the (small) team put in to NEHW, but in the past 10 or so years, I’ve seen the initiative go from something with high stakeholder and public engagement, to something practitioners barely know is taking place. Practitioners aren’t the main focus of NEHW, that seems to be Google search upticks, but they need to be involved, kept abreast of what’s happening and what they can pass on to their patients.
The reputation of the eye health sector got a massive shot in the arm during the first stages of the pandemic, so it’s important to maintain momentum and promote the role of ECPs in maintaining good eye health. I don’t think current stewardship can achieve this. Funding, objectives and, ultimately, who operates the initiative all need to be reassessed as soon as possible if NEHW is to be relevant in future.