Redcar MP Ian Swales paid a visit to eye outpatients at The James Cook University Hospital to learn more about the vital role eye clinic liaison officers play in supporting people who have recently been told that they will lose their sight.
Mr Swales met eye clinic liaison officer Cathie Burke and two patients who have recently benefited from the service at the Middlesbrough hospital.
Eye clinic liaison officers (ECLOs) provide practical and emotional support to people who have been newly diagnosed with an eye condition. People who may have been living with sight loss for some years can also visit them for extra help and advice.
They can offer patients the time that they need to discuss their eye condition and diagnosis and to learn about practical help and solutions to help them cope with the difficulties they face due to sight loss.
Mr Swales said: “It is a service which provides essential support to people in Teesside who have been newly diagnosed with sight loss and don’t know where to turn.
“I have recently experienced a rare eye condition myself and I am pleased to know that services like this one are out there with the appropriate support and knowledge.”
The ECLO role at James Cook is funded by Action for Blind People (part of the Royal National Institute of Blind People) in partnership with South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.
Lucy Dixon, RNIB regional campaigns officer for the North East said: “Not only are ECLOs vital when it comes to providing emotional support for people at a time which can be extremely daunting, but they can also offer important practical support such as helping people to understand the process of becoming registered for their sight loss and transferring people to the right social services departments.”
Cathie added: “A lot of people don’t know what to ask for because they don’t know what is available.
“No one should face sight loss alone. Providing this service is fundamental for people in Teesside, and ensures that everyone who is affected by sight loss has the opportunity to gain the support they need in order to lead fulfilled and meaningful lives.”