Fazilet Hadi, what will be important to professionals in the eye health and sight loss sectors in 2018?

Post date: 
Wednesday, 17 January 2018
Fazilet Hadi, Director of Advocacy

After welcoming in the New Year, it’s often an automatic reaction for many of us to think about what the next 12 months will hold. Hannah Adams, editor of NB Online asked a number of key leaders in the eye health and sight loss sector what they think will be important for professionals in 2018.

Fazilet Hadi Deputy CEO and Director of Advocacy, RNIB. 

What developments do you think will be important to professionals in the eye health and sight loss sectors in 2018?
Eye care is a major outpatient service, accounting for nearly 10 per cent of visits. We know that people are losing sight, due to hospital-initiated delays. Colleagues across optics and ophthalmology have been doing some great work to develop new models of service, which increase capacity, efficiency and patient care. 
In 2018, we will see the publication of a report from the All Party Parliamentary Group on Eye Health and Visual Impairment, who carried out an inquiry into capacity problems in NHS eye care services in England in the autumn of last year. We need to use the opportunities from the report to impress on politicians and health commissioners, the importance of eye care and the urgent need for system-wide planning.
Do you have any professional New Year’s resolutions for 2018?
I feel the world is changing very radically, in particular: the growth of digital communication; the shrinking of public services and the push towards self-reliance and self-service. 
In the light of these changes, we constantly need to challenge our thinking and actions, to ensure they are still relevant. I want to carve out more time for fresh thoughts and new solutions and am prepared to stop doing things that will no longer result in positive outcomes. 
What will be your work priorities in 2018?
I will continue to focus on how we can influence society to fully include blind and partially sighted people. 
This includes ensuring: improved support for people losing their sight; better education support for children with vision impairment; improved employment opportunities; and  accessible streets, transport and information. 
There are some big anniversaries in 2018, which we need to use to raise the voices and ambitions of blind and partially sighted people, the 150th anniversary of RNIB, 100 years since women got the vote and 70 years of the NHS. I'd also want to continue to work in partnership with eye health and sight loss organisations, as we can achieve far more together.
In your view, what was the biggest breakthrough in 2017?
2017 has been a difficult year to influence change at an England level, given the dominance of the political debate on Brexit. However, following years of campaigning, we did see legislation to ensure audio description on catch-up TV and the Care Quality Commission agreeing to inspect implementation of the NHS Accessible Information Standard.  
I have been heartened by successes at the local level, with a growth in Eye Clinic Liaison Officers (ECLOs), and a number of Local Authorities improving vision rehabilitation services. I've also been impressed by the victories of local campaigners in achieving sign-up to accessible bus and street Charters and A-Board bans. 2017 is also the year we saw HSBC and RBS, join other major banks, in rolling out talking ATMs. 
How important do you feel ECLOs are to patient care?
ECLOs provide an amazing service. Losing sight can be a devastating experience and people need someone to listen to their fears, provide information and advice, sign-post to peer support and local and national services and be the bridge between health and social care. 
I believe that if we can reach people at an early point of their diagnosis, we give people the best chance of re-building their lives. No one should face sight loss alone and I hope the eye health and sight loss sectors continue to work for full ECLO coverage across the UK.
Any other comments you might like to add
2017 is the year I joined Twitter and I want to continue to improve my digital skills. I've loved having a window on the discussions amongst blind and partially sighted people about public attitudes to canes and whether or not we should use coloured canes.
I've also loved listening to RNIB Connect podcasts, where blind and partially sighted people speak about their lives and you can learn about new developments affecting people with sight loss. 
The power of people telling their stories and supporting each other is amazing.  Over the past week, RNIB and blind and partially sighted twitter users have been asking fellow Twitter users and Twitter itself, to make their tweets and images more accessible, it has been fantastic to see the really positive response. 

Find out how other professionals answered

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