Cabinet Secretary Foreword
Universal access to healthcare is one of the Scottish Government's key priorities. That is why, in 2006, free eye examinations for all were introduced in Scotland. This meant that anyone from any background was able to access free eye care to help reduce the risk of sight loss.
Since the introduction of free eye examinations, there have been ever increasing demands placed on our health and social care services. The Health and Social Care Delivery Plan that we published last year recognises that the way we provide care to people needs to change and that we need to redesign our services now to better meet our community's needs in the future. The Modern Outpatient Programme further demonstrates the need for a collaborative approach to healthcare by setting out, where appropriate, when patients should be seen and cared for in the community, rather than travelling to hospital.
Optometry plays a key role in the provision of community care. This has developed since the introduction of free eye examinations, to the service being the first port of call for people with eye problems, helping to detect eye diseases early. Optometrists now need to be seen as an integral part of the transformation of primary care services and the on-going development of community based care. We are fortunate in Scotland that there is very good geographical access to optometry services, but there are still challenges to be met in ensuring that the services are accessed by our more vulnerable communities and individuals.
That is why I announced this Community Eyecare Services Review. The aim of the Review was to consider the care currently provided within community eyecare services, and identify examples of good practice that could be replicated on a national basis.
I believe the report that follows has clearly carried out that task, setting out the excellent care already being delivered by community optometrists on a day to day basis, and making proposals for further development of eyecare in the community. I would like to pass on my thanks to all those who were involved in the Review, and I intend to set out how the Scottish Government plans to respond to the Review's recommendations later in 2017.
Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport
Email: Liam Kearney
Phone: 0300 244 4000 – Central Enquiry Unit
The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House