A new Ophthalmology Common Clinical Competency Framework providing standards of knowledge and skill required for non-medical eye healthcare professionals to deliver patient care has today been launched.
The traditional eye health care team has changed and continues to develop to meet the demands on the hospital eye service due to an increase in successful, but recurrent, treatments and the increase in chronic disease management due to the aging population in the UK.
Aspects of clinical work that were previously the domain of the medically qualified ophthalmologist are now being delivered by a broader multidisciplinary team. This new team of qualified optometrists, orthoptists, ophthalmic nurses and ophthalmic clinical scientists have taken on expanded roles, which release ophthalmologists to make more complex clinical decisions and to deal with the more complex cases. But this has been at the expense of a systematic approach to education and training to ensure standardised and recognised competences across all ophthalmic secondary care locations in the UK.
The Royal College of Ophthalmologists (RCOphth) led a working group, including the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), the College of Optometrists (CoO), British and Irish Orthoptic Society (BIOS) and the Association of Health Professions in Ophthalmology (AHPO) to develop The Common Clinical Competency Framework.
Professor Carrie MacEwen, President of The Royal College of Ophthalmologists said, “As an ophthalmologist, I know how crucial an upskilled team is in delivering care for ophthalmology patients. The purpose of the Common Clinical Competency Framework is to clearly define the knowledge and skills required by healthcare professionals to perform expanded roles and ultimately for the benefit of patients.”
The Framework benefits the non-medical Health Care Professional (HCP) workforce within a hospital setting so they can continue to take on expanded roles to help manage demand and to continue to provide safe and efficient care for patients with competencies that are transparent, transferable and based on recognised training. The Framework will also improve opportunities to recruit more non-medical healthcare professionals to take on expanded roles.
Dr Mary-Ann Sherratt, President of the College of Optometrists said, “We welcome the Common Competency Framework and are very pleased to have been a part of the development process. The College Higher Qualifications are an excellent way to prepare for practising in roles that have previously been the domain of ophthalmologists, and we look forward to supporting optometrists choosing to take on expanded roles and undertake higher qualifications to affirm this.”
All ophthalmic education and training providers are encouraged to review the Framework against their existing education and training programmes and to use in the development of new programmes.
Rowena McNamara, chair of the British and Irish Orthoptic Society said, “Orthoptists are currently stepping up to the plate to provide extended role services and welcome the framework which will standardise training and enable skills to be transferred when moving between trusts.”