BIOS: A positive change to the way that orthoptic patients receive medicines

9 March 2016
Source: BIOS

A positive change to the way that orthoptic patients receive medicines “at the right time, in the right place and with fewer visits”                                              

A change in legislation announced in February means that Orthoptists, allied health professionals specialising in squints and eye movement disorders, will be able to train to supply and administer a limited list of eye medicines without the need for a doctor’s prescription (known as an exemption).

Under current medicines legislation, orthoptists can already supply and administer medicines to some patients via other mechanisms. However, the restrictions attached to the current arrangements can prevent patients getting the medicines they need, when they need them. This limits the range of patients who can benefit.

In future, patients will be able to get the medicines they need at the right time and in the right place for maximum benefit. This will be more convenient as it will reduce the number of appointments they need and the number of healthcare professionals they need to see to get the medicines they need.

The use of exemptions by orthoptists will also allow changes to be made to the way services are organised and delivered to better meet the needs of patients. For example, orthoptists will be able to offer a greater choice of treatment for children with reduced vision and so extra appointments with eye doctors will be avoided.

Rowena McNamara, Chair of the professional body for Orthoptists (BIOS) explained: “We are very pleased that we have achieved this professional milestone. It means that we can offer patients continuity of care with one practitioner, arrange fewer visits and can reduce the delays for people waiting for treatment at eye clinics. We hope that patients will experience the difference by the end of 2017.

We also hope that all professionals involved with the treatment of patients in the eye health team will be pleased with the development and that we can negotiate ways to implement the new entitlement that Orthoptists will have for the benefit of patients and to better use scarce NHS resources.”

Patient safety remains of paramount importance. Not all orthoptists will be eligible to train to use exemptions. The body that regulates orthoptists, the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC), has developed new draft standards for the supply and administration of medicines by orthoptists. These standards will shortly be put to public consultation and we encourage all interested parties such as patients, relatives, carers, patient groups and voluntary organisations and charities to respond.

Read Helen Marriot’s blog here – she is the AHP Medicines Project Lead at NHS England.

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