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Shameless cuts shouldn’t come as a shock

A potential government funding cut to the Special Schools Eye Care Service is nothing short of shameful. I would like to be able say it’s shocking, but the current government’s stoic focus on getting flights off the ground taking migrants to Rwanda shows it will do anything that may increase its chance of staying in power, even if it comes at the expense of sound healthcare policy.

Less than a year ago (June 2023), then Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department of Health and Social Care, Neil O’Brien, said the government was pleased it would be able to support sight testing for all pupils in special schools, an environment where they feel more comfortable. Eleven months later, the service is on a knife edge due to what the Association of Optometrists understands will be a 30% reduction.

The AOP says it has written to Parliamentary UnderSecretary for Public Health, Start for Life and Primary Care, Dame Andrea Leadsom to ask for full funding of the scheme. I have two issues with this. Firstly, meeting Dame Andrea appeared to have little-to-no impact on GOS remuneration talks with the Optometric Fees Negotiating Committee. My second issue is that politics is now so wound up by a forthcoming election, I do wonder if the impacts of the proposed reductions in funding will cut through any of the noise. As noble as the AOP’s intervention is, the government’s priorities across most departments, will now be elsewhere.

AOP chief executive Adam Sampson says the cut in funding is effectively ‘an act of sabotage,’ and the government ‘risks being the architect of the service’s collapse before it has even been built.’ It goes without saying he’s absolutely correct on both points, but does anyone really think this current government cares about its legacy, or if any of the recent prime ministers that have been in post can be proud of what they have achieved?

Recent local elections show desire for change among the electorate, lets just hope there’s real desire for change in the next government.



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17 May 2024 OPTICIAN 3

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