BIOS Response to Good Morning Britain (GMB) - Eye Can See Campaign - (Programme aired 6th September 2016)
We have worked tirelessly with programme makers from GMB in order to promote the profession, eye health care and the evidence-based Vision Screening Guidelines - and provided information, comments and suggestions for content. We even have facilitated filming of vision screening sessions at short notice in schools and the onward referral process. A BIOS representative was planned to be on the programme later this week, but was dropped by the producers.
As with any mass market TV show which often has to simplify issues - it does not necessarily reflect the time and effort that many (from the professional body and individual orthoptists) have put into giving extensive background information. The "easy" story is the service provided by the high street and encouraging referrals to already stretched services; the more difficult one is that NHS- provided Vision Screening services are patchy, particularly across England because of the change in commissioners.
We understand that programme makers face a difficult balancing act and are often short of time. However, the BIOS is disappointed that it was unable to put forward a more evidence-based viewpoint to this piece and have particular concerns regarding the quiz on the GMB website – it is likely that every child in Britain would fulfill at least a couple of those criteria and could create unnecessary worry for parents and guardians.
The NHS potentially needs now to be braced for a flood of referrals from high-street opticians who feel they are not able to test pre-school children adequately and then refer them to hospital services. This means all eye health care professionals – opticians, optometrists, orthoptists and ophthalmologists – may be affected.
Vast numbers of additional “free” eye tests and glasses (some of which will be of marginal evidence-based benefit) are not free, they will be paid for by already stretched NHS budgets.
The stance of the National Screening Committee (1), BIOS (2) and the Royal College of Ophthalmologists (3) is very different from GMB and Specsavers’ agenda.
Orthoptists – if you can collect evidence of increase of paediatric referrals because of the coverage in September – then please do. https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/K5HKVCN