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HomemioptometryShining a Political Spotlight on Eye Care

Shining a Political Spotlight on Eye Care

In the lead up to Queensland and Northern Territory (NT) state elections, optometry’s peak body is working to ensure improved access to eye care is on the agenda.

Optometry Queensland Northern Territory (OQNT) is deeply committed to ensuring every individual across the region has access to the eye care they need. With the 2024 state elections approaching, it is crucial that we address the pressing challenges facing our communities in accessing timely and quality eye care services.

The state of eye care in Queensland demands urgent attention. Our ageing population and the high prevalence of a range of chronic health conditions mean there is increasing demand for specialised treatment of conditions. These challenges are only exacerbated by the high proportion of Queenslanders who live outside South-East Queensland, and are even more pronounced in disadvantaged communities, including remote Indigenous communities.

ADVOCATING LOCALLY AND POLITICALLY

As primary healthcare providers, community optometrists are the first port of call for 80% of eye health issues, performing over two million Medicare-subsidised consults with Queensland patients annually. However, many living in Queensland and the NT, particularly those residing in rural and remote areas, still encounter many avoidable barriers in accessing specialised care.

As the state elections draw near, it’s vital that eye health takes centre stage. Loss of vision has a devastating impact on the affected individuals and their families, as well as a major economic and social impact on the community.

We are calling on our members in Queensland and NT to actively engage in advocating for the profession both locally and politically, to ensure the needs and contributions of optometrists are recognised and prioritised in decision-making processes.

OQNT’S VISION FOR A BETTER FUTURE

In response to the challenges above, OQNT has outlined a series of election initiatives. These include calling on the Queensland Government to:

Fund improved collaborative care models to enhance timely access for patients with chronic eye conditions and build on existing projects such as the Paediatric Optometry Alignment Program and the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital Glaucoma Collaborative Care Clinic program.

Review and update the Spectacle Supply Scheme to ensure it is delivering the intended benefits to eligible low-income Queenslanders as efficiently as possible and sufficiently covering provider costs.

Funding to employ optometrists in public hospitals whose roles would include triaging patients, supporting ophthalmologists in comanagement and discharging of patients, and liaising with community optometry practices when patients are discharged.

Develop and implement whole-of-life approaches to eye screening and eye examinations focussing on children, people with diabetes and other chronic health conditions, and disadvantaged communities.

Invest in telehealth infrastructure for rural and remote residents to ensure more equitable access to high-quality eye care, including consideration of a governmentfunded tele-ophthalmology advisory service for optometrists in underserved regions.

Endorse optometrists to prescribe in-scope oral medications. Australian optometrists should be able to practise to their full scope, and this anomaly should be addressed so patients have timely access to medications for ocular conditions.

ADVOCACY IN THE NT

To help OQNT advocate for eye care in the NT, in the lead up to the election we invite Territory optometrists to share the key issues and challenges being faced by your patients, along with your ideas and proposed solutions. Please complete the survey at surveymonkey.com/r/SMT6TNF.

INTRODUCING CAIRNS INTERACTIVE

OQNT is excited to announce the arrival of Cairns Interactive, formerly North Queensland Vision. This is a boutique, one-day CPD event held in stunning Far North Queensland on Sunday, 7 July 2024.

Cairns Interactive will unite optometrists from all corners of the country in a relaxed, tropical setting, providing extensive opportunities for interactive discussion. The program will predominantly feature casebased sessions covering sought after topics, including the therapeutic management of red eye presentations and emergency eye care. We look forward to welcoming you there.

To register for Cairns Interactive, please visit optometry.org.au/institute-of-excellence/cpdevents/cairns-interactive.

Fiona Moore is the President of Optometry Queensland Northern Territory.