OPINION 1/7/16 rightly raises the issues of focusing attention for eye care on at-risk groups. Indeed, he mentions homeless people, and we are heartened to see this issue being raised.
The financial system and structure is currently not in place to make regular eye care for this group possible, but the 2012 Health and Social Care Act states that the CCGs and Secretary of State have a duty to reduce the health inequalities faced by homeless people at a national and local level. We would like them to deliver on that duty.
There is a need for a national approach to the eye needs of homeless people through the creation of new health care pathways. This needs to include referral to hospitals as necessary. We would welcome progress in addressing this inequality to care.
In the meantime, Vision Care for Homeless People is now in its 12th year, and facing increased demand for its services: not just at the established clinics in London, Birmingham, Brighton and Manchester, but in many other UK towns and cities.
Homeless people have significant eye care needs, which are often neglected. We know, at first hand, that the barriers to accessing healthcare can be insurmountable for homeless and other vulnerable people. Our response to this is to take eye care to the centres where homeless people feel safe, and welcome, and this, along with a mobile service, has to be the focus for supporting this vulnerable group.