Sir Roger Gale
Member of Parliament for North Thanet (Margate, Herne Bay & The Villages)
Roger Gale campaigns for better support for people losing their sight
December 8th 2009
Today 100 people in the UK will begin to lose their sight, but only 8 will be offered counselling, despite a high risk of depression and even suicide. Losing sight has a devastating impact on people’s lives, and it is often assumed that if you start to lose your sight a range of services swing into action – this is not always true.
At a parliamentary reception hosted by RNIB, Roger Gale learned about the patchy provision of support for people with sight loss and is taking action locally to ensure that quality support is in place in the eye clinic so everyone who is diagnosed as losing their sight gets the help they need.
A shocking 23 per cent of people losing their sight leave the eye clinic without even being certain of the name of the condition that caused their sight loss. Thousands of people get no support when they lose their sight - most receive no counselling and are left to cope with their diagnosis alone.
However, a solution is at hand- the Eye Clinic Liaison Officer. This key professional, now in place in some eye hospitals around the UK, is there to give advice to people who are told they are losing their sight. They give basic emotional support, signpost people to local statutory and voluntary services and make sure they go home with information on their condition and how they can cope.
Roger said "In some areas of the UK we have, through the Eye Clinic Liaison Officer, excellent and professional services for people when they are diagnosed with sight loss in the eye hospital. However, more work needs to be done in our own area to ensure the PCT gives this issue the priority it deserves and resources are put in place to deliver a service that meets local need. I will be raising this with our local NHS managers and ensuring that progress is made."
RNIB Group Director Inclusive Society, Fazilet Hadi says: “When people lose their sight, they lose more than their ability to see, they lose their life as they once knew it. There is clearly a systemic failure in the UK to provide vital support for people when they lose their sight. It’s left to organisations like RNIB, or local societies of blind and partially sighted people, to plug this gap and at the moment we can only help one in three people facing this enormous life change."
Visit www.rnib.org.uk/lost to find out more about RNIB’s Lost and Found campaign.
RNIB's Parliamentary Reception Tuesday 8th December 2009