Posted by Schooldays Newshound, on 10/05/2016. Tags: Parenting Eachers
The HSE have discontinued the routine eye screenings of school children in fifth and sixth class with immediate effect.
In letters sent to primary school Principals around the country, the HSE stated that the service will be stopped as there was a lack of evidence to support the effectiveness of the programme.
The Association of Optometrists (AOI) said it accepted that the effectiveness of the service was questionable, but removing a major part of the Primary School Children Optical Scheme and not replacing it, or reforming it, with something better is going to make outcomes worse.
AOI’s Optometric Advisor Lynda McGivney Nolan called for commitment from the new Government to eliminate children’s eye-care waiting lists – by moving to a community based model of eye-care, similar to what has been successfully introduced in parts of the UK.
“Children’s waiting lists can be solved quickly by referring children directly from the school scheme to their local Optometrist. Under the current system in Ireland children are referred to HSE Community Clinics, or Hospital services where there are unacceptable delays."
AOI said that the move will further reduce eye-care services for children which are already highly compromised by waiting lists of up to five years for non-urgent cases and six months for urgent cases.
“All children in fifth or sixth class who notice symptoms should be entitled to go to their Optometrist for an eye examination and for follow on treatment, or referral as required."
The AOI said reforming to a community based model would not only eliminate waiting lists but also save the State money and improve health outcomes for children.
“On the estimation of a HSE Community Clinic examination costing €100 per visit and an Optometrist €60 per exam (plus other additional savings), annual cost savings of millions of euro can be achieved,” Ms. McGivney Nolan said.