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The Society for Children
and Adults with Learning
Disabilities and their Families

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Learning disability and eye tests.

A quick reminder of the work of SeeAbility

I attended some Public Health England (PHE) events in 2018, where discussions fed into PHE’s proposals for the priorities in the NHS Long Term Plan published this spring.

One event included a presentation by SeeAbility, which was a bit of an eye-opener (pun intended). The key statistic is that children with a learning disability are 28 times more likely than other children to have a serious sight problem!

So I was glad to see that during the Queen’s Speech debate, Siobhain McDonagh MP was able to make this contribution

“Let me start with some good news. Last Thursday, I used Parliament’s brief prorogation to visit the remarkable Perseid School in my constituency, a school for children with severe learning difficulties that has just been judged “outstanding” by Ofsted for the fourth consecutive time. As part of its consistent excellence, Perseid has been a key player in a groundbreaking project delivered by the fantastic charity SeeAbility, which calls for full sight tests and glasses to be dispensed to children at their schools rather than in the high street or in a hospital.

Why is that important? Because children with a learning disability are 28 times more likely than other children to have a serious sight problem. In the UK, one of the highest populations at risk of poor vision is that of people with learning disabilities, and the majority  of children with severe or profound learning disabilities attend special schools. In fact, nearly half of the children in such schools have a vision problem, and nearly one third need glasses. Those clear health inequalities have led the NHS to commit itself to a new programme of eye care for all special needs schools, which will bring eye care and glasses to more than 120,000 children once it is up and running. It is hoped that the scheme will be launched in spring 2020, and the commitment to improve healthcare for all people with learning disabilities and autism in the NHS 10-year long-term plan should help drive this change forward. I congratulate wholeheartedly both SeeAbility and Perseid for driving the changes, and may I take a moment also to credit Alistair Burt, who used his power and position while Minister at the Department of Health and Social Care to help make this difference? Will the Minister today signal support for the scheme progressing as planned by NHS England and for it being a continued priority for secondary legislation among all that has been announced in the Queen’s Speech?”

Here’s hoping that a national eye care scheme will finally be launched in 2020. In the interim, Information and advice on vision and eye tests is available on the SeeAbility website.

 

RESCARE

The Society for Children and Adults
with Learning Disabilities and their Families

 

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