Eluned Morgan MS, Minister for Health and Social Services
Following recent optometry contract negotiations between the Welsh Government, Optometry Wales and NHS Wales, I am pleased to confirm I have agreed, in principle, to a new optometry contract terms of service and associated financial costs.
Underpinning this is the development of new optometry contract terms of service for primary care optometry providers. This will represent a significant reform of optometry services, aligned to the commitments set out in A Healthier Wales and the Future Approach for Optometry Services, founded on the key principles of prudent healthcare.
The focus of the changes is to improve access to eye health services in the community and in hospital eye departments, enabling patients to access eye care services delivered by the right professional, in the right place across the entire eye care pathway of primary care optometry and specialist hospital eye care services.
The increase in clinical services delivered by optometrists, working together with hospital eye departments, will provide NHS Wales with assurance that delivery will be equitable, consistent, and timely for all citizens across Wales.
We have moved forward at pace with optometry contract reform over the last 12 months, through robust dialogue, discussion and collaborative working with Optometry Wales and NHS Wales. This has ensured we reached the best outcomes for all stakeholders during negotiations.
This dialogue and engagement will continue while stepping up Wales General Ophthalmic Services (WGOS), through the Implementation Board, established to support delivery over the next three years. The priority will be to implement services which will reduce the number of referrals and improve access into hospital eye departments.
Looking forward to an even more productive year ahead and everyone’s continued commitment, we can continue to work collaboratively and deliver against the objectives from the Future Approach for Optometry Services in Wales.
This policy development ensures Wales remains at the cutting edge of the UK, leading reform clinically from a patient centred perspective, and being the first UK nation to fully embrace clinical services in optometry primary and community care.