Newsletter: August 2009 - Issue 6

Summary:Welcome to the August edition of the UK Vision Strategy (UKVS) Newsletter.

Welcome to the August edition of the UK Vision Strategy (UKVS) Newsletter. Last month we welcomed the launch of the World Class Commissioning eye care guide. This guide has been developed for senior managers responsible for commissioning eye health services and will act as a powerful resource to improve these services.

Looking ahead, the UK Vision Strategy presents many opportunities to deliver positive change. Please read on to find out about the work currently taking place…

Anita Lightstone
Programme Director - UK Vision Strategy

1. General UK Update

Progress in Northern Ireland

On 1 April 2009 the structure of NHS in Northern Ireland changed dramatically. Meetings have been held with the chief executives of the three new NHS bodies: regional health and social care board, public health agency and the patient and client council in order to gain support for the implementation of the Strategy.

Other key developments:

  • The Implementation Plan for Northern Ireland has been published and distributed. The plan sets out the objectives and targets for the four priority action groups. These groups are currently progressing action plans.
  • The All Party Assembly Group of 17 Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) have agreed to hold an ‘Open Day’ at Stormont this October.

For further information contact Chris Wilson at RNIB (Northern Ireland). Email:

Progress in Scotland

The Scotland Implementation Plan has been widely circulated across health, social care and voluntary providers. Follow-up contact with all key providers will be carried out over the next few months.

Other key developments:

  • An audit of ongoing work that reflects the 'improvement actions' has begun
  • Key presentations to the members of the Association of Directors of Social Work Physical Disability Group have taken place.
  • A unique opportunity to address senior staff at the Lothian Health board was very successful and a further presentation to Glasgow and Clyde Health Board has been arranged.

For further information contact Bryn Merchant at RNIB (Scotland). Email:

Progress in Wales

Work is progressing on the Welsh Implementation Plan through the Wales Vision Strategy group. It is anticipated that this will be in place by the end of November.

Contact Mary van den Heuvel at RNIB Cymru for further information. Email:

Progress in England

The England Implementation Plan was launched at the Vision 2009 UK Conference on 4 June and is still available, either as hard copy or via the Vision Strategy website (will open new window)

At the last England Implementation Meeting sub groups were established to work on specific priorities of the strategy. We look forward to hearing their progress when we meet in September.

Contact Deborah Hamlin for further information. Email:

UKVS Programme Developments

NHS World Class commissioning eye care guide

Launched on the 17 July at a Primary Care Commissioning event addressed by Lesley-Anne Alexander, the new guide is jointly supported by Department of Health (DH) and UK Vision Strategy (UKVS). The resource outlines the steps Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) need to follow to become competent commissioners of eye care services. Download your copy of the eye care guide from: (will open new window) or contact Janelle Heath at UKVS for further information. Email:

Future sight loss UK Workshop

Also on 17 July, the UK Vision Strategy team hosted a workshop to look at 'Future Sight Loss UK' - a recent RNIB funded study on the prevalence and costs of sight loss. Bringing together key stakeholders, the main aims of this workshop were to review the key findings and consider the implications/questions arising in terms of service planning, delivery, development and research. A report on the workshop will be available next month.

Contact Pritti Mehta at UKVS for further information. Email:

Expertise, Partnership, Information and Communication (EPIC)

EPIC will develop expertise and partnership at local level to enable better integration between health, social care and the voluntary sector. Funded by Department of Health the new project will be England based.

Contact Pritti Mehta at UKVS for further information. Email:

Mapping the activity of UKVS

All UK Vision Strategy activity is being mapped at national, regional and local level. The exercise will help the team chart the progress of the Strategy to share best practise. This process will feed into a wider project to track the success of the Strategy over the next five years.

Contact Harsha Gajjar at UKVS for further information: Email:

London UK Vision Strategy Event - 16 November 09

An event aimed at transforming the eye health care and sight loss sector in London will be held at the Clifford Chance building in Canary Wharf on the afternoon of 16th November. If you are a London based health and social care commissioner, or working within eye-care or sight loss services, please book your place now to avoid disappointment. The final programme is available to view on the UKVS website (will open new window) 

Contact Janelle Heath at UKVS for further information. Email:

SW Partnership Event - 20 October

Aimed at service commissioners and providers in the South West, this event will raise the profile of eye health and sight loss issues. Sponsored by Guide Dogs, the event will be held on the afternoon of 20 October at Jurys Inn, Exeter.

Contact Harsha Gajjar at UKVS for further information. Email: 

Raising profile of eye care amongst MPs

UK Vision Strategy is the lead supporter at three Health Hotel receptions. Eye Health Alliance will chair the Health Hotel - a mini-conference that takes place at the three main annual political party conferences. Speakers include: Andy Burnham,

Secretary of State for Health at the Labour reception, Andrew Lansley shadow health secretary at the Conservative reception and Norman Lamb shadow health secretary at the Liberal Democrats. Lesley-Anne Alexander, CEO of RNIB and Chair of the Strategic Advisory Group and Bridget Warr, CEO of Guide Dogs will speak on behalf of UKVS.

Contact Janelle Heath at UKVS for further information. Email:

New UKVS team members

On 1 September UKVS welcomes Tracey Gurr and Edna Corrigan-Brown to the team. Joining us as a Communications Consultant on secondment from Guide Dogs for one year, Tracey will assist to raise the profile of the Strategy. The UKVS team would like to extend their appreciation to Guide Dogs for their generous support. With years of project management experience, Edna will take responsibility of the EPIC project.

UKVS Champions

The UK Vision Strategy Champions have been hard at work in various parts of the country. Several areas have made progress towards establishing local or regional groups to make the Strategy happen. Contact Deborah Hamlin for further information. Email:

2. Regional Activity


The 'Living with Sight Loss Resource pack' (for people living in Doncaster) is now available and being distributed to patients and professionals throughout Doncaster. Large print is standard format but it is also available in Braille, audio CD and audio cassette.

The pack has been supported by vision awareness training for both health and social care staff. A number of shorter sessions, tailored to the needs of particular groups (e.g. community matrons) have also been delivered. Approximately 200 people have received the training.

Contact Laura Taylor at Doncaster PCT for further information. Email:

Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland Vision Strategy

A multi-agency Vision Strategy Group has been formed with strategic representation from two Primary Care Trusts (PCTs), three local authority adult social care departments, children's services, the local optometric committee, voluntary sector and visually impaired people. The group is currently mapping existing provision in the area to identify gaps and agree on a shared plan of action for the next few years.

Other activity:

  • The Leicester City is running a ‘STOP Smoking’ campaign to focus on the risk smoking poses to sight
  • Discussions have commenced regarding the possibility of a new ophthalmology clinic in Rutland. This would avoid people being sent to 'out-of-area' hospitals
  • Rutland County Council has funded a project to extend eye health and eye care awareness to people in isolated village communities

For further information, contact Jenny Pearce, Chief Executive, Vista. Email:

3. Outcome 1 News

Improving the eye health of the people of the UK

New laser treatment may prevent AMD

In its early stages, a new ophthalmic research project funded by Guide Dogs has led to the discovery of a new laser treatment that could prevent age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

The new 10-15 minute laser treatment clears the membrane behind the retina, which becomes badly clogged in eyes with AMD, allowing nutrients to get through. The research project was headed by Professor John Marshall of King's College, London, who pioneered laser surgery to correct short-sightedness.

Proofs of concept clinical trails were successful and further trials begin shortly.

Contact Mark Howard at Guide Dogs for more information. Email

Need for in-school eye testing

A pilot eye test programme for students with learning disabilities was recently run in Talbot Specialist School in Sheffield. The test found 11 of the 17 students had eye problems, many of which had previously been undetected. This pilot illustrates the need for better eye care for people with learning disabilities and the benefits of in-school eye care.

For further information contact Paula Spinks Chamberlain at Seeability. Email:

Campaign for children

The Leicestershire specialist teaching service and the local optometric committee will shortly circulate leaflets to approximately 350 early childhood locations to encourage parents to make sure their children have a full eye examination. The Local Optometric Committee has agreed to fund the leaflets as part of its effort to deliver UKVS at local level.

Contact Jenny Pearce, Chief Executive Vista for further information. Email:

New guide for optometrists

A new 'Continuing Education' pack produced by Healthcall Optical Services in collaboration with SeeAbility and Replay Learning will assist optometrists to offer better eye care to people with learning disabilities. The pack highlights the importance of eye examinations for people with learning disabilities.

Contact SeeAbility's Central Office for further information Tel: 01372 755000 or visit: SeeAbility (will open new window)

4. Outcome 2 News

Eliminating avoidable sight loss and delivering excellent support for people with sight loss

New ophthalmology working group in West Sussex

A new group has been created to replace the Low Vision Service Committee (LVSC) group previously run by the social care and voluntary sector.

The new group will be led by the Primary Care Trust and an initial meeting was held on 16 June. Hospital, voluntary and local authority membership as well as customers of the services will be identifying what happens across the county within the hospital based services and mapping pathways.

Contact Ruth Osborne from West Sussex County Council for further information. Email:

Providing better nursing services

A revised edition of 'The nature, scope and value of ophthalmic nursing' has been launched by the Ophthalmic Nursing Forum to address the changing face of ophthalmic nursing.

It discusses the nature of ophthalmic nursing and how nurses can contribute to health care.

Download the revised edition at (will open new window)  or contact the Royal College of Nursing's Ophthalmic Nursing Forum for further information.

5. Outcome 3 News

Inclusion, participation and independence for people with sight loss

NHS Personal Health budgets leaflet

A new leaflet 'Understanding Personal Health Budgets' has been made available by Department of Health and NHS. The leaflet will help commissioners, professionals and support organisations introduce the idea of a personal health budget to members of the general public. Download a copy of the leaflet at (will open new window) or email: for more information.

Shaping the future of care together

The new social care green paper looks at the future of care and support in England. It proposes a National Care Service to ensure common standards and puts forward options for care funding. Download the briefing at (will open new window)

Contact NHS Confed for further information. Email: 

Patient-focussed services

A new guide with examples of good practice has been distributed to all GP Practices. The guide features top-tips and step-by-step information so practices can explore the different ways to tailor their service and improve the overall experience for patients. Sponsored by Department of Health, the handbook has been developed in partnership with numerous other organisations. The NHS Practice Management Network will be distributing hard copies to all GP practices during July and August.

Download your copy of the guide at (will open new window) or email NHS Networks for further information.

6. Other news and events

RNIB 'What would you lose?' campaign

RNIB is launching their new campaign on 16 September 2009. The campaign aims to raise the general public's awareness of what it means to lose your sight and increase understanding of what RNIB does. For further information email:

7. Contact Us

Tell us your news:

Do you have a story or contribution for the December edition of the UK Vision Strategy newsletter? If so then please send your details to Janelle Heath, Communications Manager - UK Vision Strategy.

Email:  Tel: 020 7391 2177

UK Vision Strategy Implementation Team:

For general enquiries, feedback and suggestions please contact Harsha Gajjar, Project Manager - UK Vision Strategy.

Email:  Tel: 0207 391 2043

NB: This newsletter is available in the following formats: electronic and hard copy (standard and large print), Braille, audio CD and audio tape.