Minister visits London special school to witness SeeAbility eye care team deliver new NHS service
SeeAbility were thrilled to host Minister Maria Caulfield MP recently at a special school where they deliver our new eye care service to children with learning disabilities.
Maria Caulfield MP, Minister for Primary Care and Patient Safety, visited Perseid School in London to see children having their eyes tested by our specialist eye care team.
Our work has highlighted that children with learning disabilities are even more likely to have a sight problem than other children – in fact 28 times more likely – and has also revealed that half of children in special schools will have a problem with their vision. Yet over 4 in 10 have never had a sight test before.
As a result of our groundbreaking work and peer reviewed research, Public Health England recommended that special school students should have their eye care and glasses provided in the familiar, convenient setting of their school – and NHS England has begun work on a proof of concept in over 90 special schools across London, the North West and North East & Yorkshire to establish its own NHS Special Schools Eye Care Service.
The Minister heard from teachers and met with children who have benefitted from the project, as well as eye care professionals who have been delivering sight tests and glasses to the pupils and advising parents and teachers on how to support children to make the best use of their vision.
Minister Caulfield said: “Visiting Perseid primary school in London I saw first-hand how SeeAbility is helping young people with learning disabilities identify and address visual problems.”
“The new NHS Special Schools Eye Care Service is making a real difference to these children’s lives. Together with SeeAbility, the NHS is reducing unnecessary hospital trips and improving the lives and outcomes of tens of thousands of children with learning disabilities. My thanks to all those involved, including primary care staff and eye care professionals who play a vital role in our NHS.”
Tina Harvey, Executive Headteacher at Perseid said: “Perseid was the very first school to partner with SeeAbility back in 2013. It was ground-breaking at the time to bring full sight tests and glasses dispensing into special schools, now it is multi award winning and being taken forward by the NHS. The difference eye care has made to our children is profound – especially for the children who had never had a sight test and were found to need glasses. Many were living their lives in a total blur before.”
Lisa Donaldson, SeeAbility’s Head of Eye Care, who is an optometrist, said: “It was such a pleasure to host the Minister as crucially it was her Department’s initial innovation funding which enabled us to get the project off the ground and demonstrate to NHS England that this multidisciplinary service is needed in special schools.
Thinking creatively about the way eye care services are delivered can mean everyone gets a more equal right to sight – this is so important for children with learning disabilities who are much more at risk of having a sight problem.”