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HomemioptometryOptometry Association Reports Feb 10

Optometry Association Reports Feb 10

Terri Smith, Andrew McKinnon, Greg Johnson, Geoff Squibb, Tony Martella, The New Zealand Association of Optometrists

Happenings and events from the optometry divisions in Australia and New Zealand

OAA NSW by Andrew McKinnon

I accept the fact that by the time you are reading this, New Year’s Resolutions will be completely passé, but for what its worth, here is my wish list of things I’d like to see happen for the profession in 2010 (and beyond):

  • Finalisation of the laws to adopt the National Registration laws in NSW. Because NSW has decided to stick with the Health Care Complaints Commission, the legislative manoeuvring to do this is giving our colleagues at NSW Health a lot of grey hair (what little they have left). However it will be fixed in time for 1 July and I’ll be very happy when it is.
  • Standardisation of the therapeutics lists across Australia. Fingers crossed, the farcical situation which now exists will come to an end also by 1 July. With just a little luck, we’ll all have the full therapeutics list and it won’t be before time.
  • Resurgence in interest in CPD in NSW. We’ve lagged badly behind every other state for many years, but the introduction of mandatory CPD should help to motivate even the most blasé among us.
  • The graduation of our first cohort of therapeutically-qualified undergraduates. This will be a seminal moment for the development of the profession in this country, the importance of which should not be underestimated.
  • An optometrist (or optometrists) working alongside our ophthalmology & orthoptist colleagues in a public hospital setting as an integral part of the eye care team.
  • And finally, the implementation of an arrangement whereby optometrists who are doing the graduate certificate in ocular therapeutics can receive their hospital placement time here in NSW (as opposed to having to travel to Hobart).

If we get all that under our belts, we’ll be sitting here in December 2010 feeling pretty chuffed!

This will be a seminal moment for the development of the profession in this country, the importance of which should not be underestimated

OAA Qld by Greg Johnson

Members of the Queensland Vision Initiative were privileged to present the Initiative’s fourth live state-wide satellite broadcast to all Queensland Health hospitals and agencies on Thursday, 10 December 2009. Over 150 outlets took the broadcast.

The subject on this occasion was “Diabetes and Vision” and panelists were OAA Director and OAA National Board member Simon Hurwood, Ophthalmologist Dr. Erwin Groeneveld, Diabetes Australia Queensland CEO Michelle Trute and Diabetes Educator Tracey Tellam. Chair for the session was QVI President, and OAA Director, Kady Brandon.

Mortality data from 2006 suggests that diabetes is now the sixth most common cause of death in Queensland.

The federal government has introduced the Diabetes health check – a GP-based monthly monitoring program, where GPs check body mass index, blood pressure, feet, blood and urine glucose levels with a two yearly eye check. In total, 90 per cent of Queensland GPs are reported to have signed on to this Diabetes Practice Incentives Program.

Type II diabetes accounts for 92 per cent of cases of diabetes in the Australian population and although partly genetic, the incidence is influenced by lifestyle factors. This form of diabetes is highly preventable with changes in diet and increased physical exercise. It has been reported that 60 per cent of type II diabetes can be prevented with a healthy lifestyle. “Prevention is better than cure!”

The panel highlighted the cost of the diabetes epidemic, the reality of living with diabetes, and the risk and causes of diabetic eye disease. It also illustrated how all health professionals can play a role in prevention, early diagnosis and/or treatment of diabetic eye disease to prevent severe vision loss – in those already facing multiple chronic conditions associated with diabetes.

Throughout the broadcast the recurring theme was “teamwork” and all panelists emphasised the need for a multi-disciplinary approach to tackling what many are calling an epidemic.

Readers who would like to receive a DVD of the broadcast are invited to E: [email protected].

Just a reminder about the two upcoming major CPD events in the state – Queensland Vision, 9-11 April at the Gold Coast, 48CPD points and North Queensland Vision, 11-13 June (Queen’s Birthday long weekend) at the Shangri-La Hotel in Cairns, 21 CPD points. E: [email protected] for programs.

OAA WA by Tony Martella

First of all, thank you to everyone for your continued support of the Optometrists Association Australia. 2009 was another big year for the Western Australia Division and it is great to be back to work after Christmas and New Year. We are looking forward to another great year in 2010.

In WA, the economy is still looking reasonable and optometry generally performed well in 2009… And so far, the indication is that business will continue to remain stable into the foreseeable future.

Following on from this, there will be ongoing opportunities for optometry graduates in WA this year. In February, I am attending the inaugural Careers Expo in Victoria where graduates and potential employers come together to discuss recruitment. I will be promoting WA to the graduates as a desirable destination to start their careers. This is positive step for the optometry workforce in WA as there is a need to boost overall profession numbers in the state. It’s a tremendous opportunity for those graduates who want to broaden their experience and skills as well as get to be a part of a great profession in WA.

Another important milestone this year for the profession will be the implementation of the National Registration and Accreditation System will be taking effect as of July 1. Finally we will have a single national body, the Optometry Board of Australia, which will be responsible for the profession regardless of jurisdiction they practice in. This will enable greater flexibility for optometrists and ultimately provide greater patient care.

Following on from the 2009 CPD program, another exciting and varied education program is again planned for this year. The monthly CPD evenings will continue for members and will continue to help not only to educate but also to foster ongoing networks and relationships amongst the profession.

OAA Tas by Geoff Squibb

The Tasmanian Eye Health and Vision Initiative (TEHVCI) was a federally funded project aimed at reducing preventable vision loss and to reduce the effect of vision loss in Tasmania. The Steering Committee produced its final report in October. Its key findings were:

Finding 1: Ongoing Professional Development Programs
There is a need for continued professional development programs for health care practitioners. This would ensure that all professionals have a sound working knowledge of each others’ roles and function. The continuation of such a program would provide the necessary sustainability for the project’s objectives.


Finding 2: Documenting the Triage Process

There is a need for a well documented triage process to be published for public eye clinics. This would:

  • Promote timely and targeted provision of services;
  • Assist referrers to the clinic so the effectiveness of the clinic is maximised; and
  • Assist the referrers when considering alternate referral paths that exist in the community.


Finding 3: Offering Services and Assessing Needs

There is a need for low vision assessment for vision impaired patients in public and private eye clinics. Establishing an independent eye care liaison officer (ECLO) visiting clinics would assist the health care provider when addressing the wider management issues of independent living. The cost of an ECLO type function to liaise across boundaries could have significant cost benefits for any government.

A full cost benefit analysis would reveal that the increased need to fund low vision services, training and aids would be outweighed by the huge potential cost savings and provide positive outcomes for improved independence, eye health and emotional health.

Finding 4: Improving Communication between Eye and Health Care Practitioners
There is a need for improved communication between eye and other health care practitioners and their engagement with general practice in the vision impaired sector. The Australian Medical Council (AMC) has published ‘Good Medical Practice: A Code of Conduct for Doctors in Australia’. Section four of that document is an excellent basis for how communication should and could work between all team members providing care of the visually impaired. Further professional development and education could focus on this as a baseline format.

Finding 5: Integration with Ophthalmic, Chronic and Aged Care Services
There is a need for ready access to low vision services and integration with ophthalmic, chronic and aged care. Access to the full suite of low vision services at the appropriate point for the vision impaired needs to be integrated with their other life and health needs. With the ageing of the population and the increased pressures in all chronic health areas the integration of services would produce major health benefits at a better direct and indirect cost. (Also refer Finding 3.)

Finding 6: Develop Universal Protocols
There is a need for review of IT platforms and the effect these have on communications between eye care practitioners and other practitioners working in the vision impaired sector.

There are at present a number of private and public systems and IT platforms operating in the medical and allied health sectors. The potential for these systems to enhance communication is excellent; however, at present there seems to be difficulty at a practical level of developing universal protocols. There is a risk that if universal protocols are not addressed and are without suitable integration protocols, these disparate systems could hinder communication.

Prescribing Therapeutics Survey
Tasmanian Optometrists Association Members with therapeutic endorsement were surveyed during October 2009. Approximately half of the therapeutically qualified members responded. The results were quite interesting.

Of those responding, 90 per cent have been qualified to prescribe since 2005 and just over 80 per cent gained their endorsement after undertaking the course organised by OAA (Tas) and conducted by the State University of New York.

As this was the first survey of its kind conducted since prescribing rights were granted, the Association was keen to ascertain the extent to which the opportunity has been taken up. Almost 70 per cent of those responding prescribe therapeutics at least once a week. The survey also showed that dry eye and superficial ocular inflammation were the most common conditions treated with therapeutics. Whilst prescribing was common amongst the majority of members, 25 per cent indicated that they did not regularly prescribe therapeutics.

It was also interesting that 12 months after 13 anti-glaucoma medications were added to the list and some six months after qualified optometrists were endorsed to co-manage glaucoma treatment, about 90 per cent of respondents indicated that they rarely treated glaucoma. Half of those members however, said that they would be happy to co-manage glaucoma.

National Registration and Accreditation will have to wait until after state election
Progress with the legislation for the new national registration and accreditation scheme in Tasmania is currently on hold until after the State election due on 20 March 2010. The Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (Tasmania) Bill 2009 was passed by the House of Assembly on 17 November. Although it has been read a first time in the Legislative Council, it had not been debated when the Tasmanian Parliament rose for the summer recess. As Parliament will not resume until after the state election, progress is stalled. The accompanying bill, the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (Tasmania) (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2009, was not introduced by the government at the same time as the former bill. This was apparently due to feedback received from interested parties.

The Association was concerned that sections 62-65 of the Optometrists Registration Act 1994 which require prescriptions before optical appliances may be supplied and which will be repealed once the new act is passed, are not included in the new act. The Minister for Health however has subsequently advised that these provisions will be incorporated in other relevant health legislation.