Ian gets behind sight loss adviser call for hospital eye departments

Ian Lavery is pictured with a trainee guide dog.
Ian Lavery is pictured with a trainee guide dog.

A Northumberland MP is supporting a Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) campaign that is aiming to achieve the provision of more specialist help in UK hospitals for those facing up to losing their sight.

Every single day, 100 people in Britain begin to lose their sight, but only 30 per cent of eye departments in hospitals across the country have a qualified adviser in place to help them come to terms with the news.

Sight loss advisers attached to hospitals can offer people dedicated practical and emotional support, as well as advice on remaining in work, being independent in their homes and/or reducing the risk of falls.

Recent research has also shown that they can make a contribution to generating savings in health and social care budgets.

Speaking after attending a Parliamentary launch of the RNIB campaign, Wansbeck MP Ian Lavery said: “It is vital that blind and partially sighted people receive quality and timely support to help them adjust to the loss of sight, which can have such a profound impact on someone’s life.

“Without the right support, people can become unnecessarily isolated and struggle to adapt and that is why I’m backing RNIB’s call for every UK hospital eye department to have access to a dedicated sight loss adviser.”

A recent survey by the RNIB revealed that 44 per cent of UK adults fear losing their sight more than any other long-term health condition such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, heart disease or having to use a wheelchair.

More than half of those surveyed also said that they believed losing their sight would have a bigger impact on their lives than other health conditions.

RNIB’s chief executive officer, Lesley-Anne Alexander, said: “In less than 40 years the number of people with sight loss is going to double.

“Therefore, we are determined to make the Government realise that properly qualified sight loss advisers are not only absolutely crucial for patients, but they make economic sense as well.”