Engaging with the England Vision Strategy – a West Midlands perspective

Post date: 
Wednesday, 16 March 2016
England Vision Strategy Birmingham Event

By Claire Roberts, Chair, Local Eye Health Network (NHS England West Midlands)

In July last year, the England Vision Strategy (EVS) team held an event in Birmingham to discuss the priorities of the newly launched EVS action plan and how we might develop a more co-ordinated approach across the West Midlands.  

Together with two other Local Eye Health Network (LEHN) Chairs in the region, I had the opportunity to talk about our work and how it links with the UK Vision Strategy.  It was the first of a series of events, which the EVS team are continuing to roll out across England.  Since then, we have been going through a transition in the West Midlands, with two LEHNs coming together to align with the geographical structure of NHS England West Midlands.  As we move forward and develop new working relationships across the sector, we look forward to contributing to the aims of the UK Vision Strategy and EVS priorities.

As an LEHN, our approach has been to raise the profile of eye health and sight loss by seeking out and working with other organisations in the West Midlands with shared interests.  For example, we have linked with NHS and voluntary sector partners to raise issues around dementia and sight loss, particularly with respect to education and development of the workforce.  We have also started to work with regional and national partners to plan a conference about dementia and sight loss in Birmingham in the summer.

We are pleased to be working with the West Midlands Quality Review Service (WMQRS) on quality standards for eye care.  WMQRS is a collaborative venture by NHS organisations in the West Midlands to improve the quality of health services.  They have worked over many years on a range of disease and topic areas, but this is the first time quality standards have been included for eye care. We have put together a small multi-disciplinary group from across the eye health and sight loss sector to provide initial input, with regional events planned for the summer for wider clinical and patient input.  Once adopted, the standards can be used for WMQRS peer review visits and will provide opportunities to share good practice and learning.

We have also linked with Health Education West Midlands to provide three eye health and sight loss projects for the newly launched West Midlands Community Health Fellowship Scheme for F2 doctors during their training.  The scheme is designed to offer doctors in training the opportunity to volunteer and work in small groups on a public health project, hosted by a voluntary sector organisation and supervised by a Public Health Registrar.  Our projects include raising awareness of the risks of smoking and sight loss among young people locally, understanding how to make health information more accessible for people with sight loss and improving volunteering opportunities for people living with sight loss.  Each project has been hosted by a voluntary sector sight loss organisation in the West Midlands. 

This work has required us to work extensively across the eye health and sight loss sector, and we hope it will add value and contribute to the outcomes of the England Vision Strategy. 

Find out more about the England Vision Strategy here