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Published: 13.08.2020
Vision 2020 National bodies: UK

Matt Broom writes about the Vision 2020 UK’s (later Vision UK) impact in the UK. Vision UK shut operations last week. This interview is part of the Vision Excellence Awards – do send in your nominations.

What was VISION 2020 UK’s impact on eye care and service delivery in the UK and the region?
By being the independent partnership organisation in the UK for eye health and sight loss VISION 2020 UK/Vision UK formed strategic partnerships around vision strategies in the devolved administrations of the UK and the UK government in general. We worked to keep eye health and sight loss on medical and social care agendas.
We respond to national and local consultations on specific eye questions and also wider health issues such as diabetes, obesity and dementia.

Through our committees we have developed strategies which have been taken up nationally, such as the Portfolio of indicators for eye health and care and the James Lind Alliance, priority setting partnership for Sight Loss and Vision.

One of VISION 2020’s key role was to bring eye care to the attention of policy holders – can you think of one or two key politicians who began to take eye care seriously thanks to our advocacy?
Dai Lloyd, Welsh Assembly Member (Plaid Cymru); Jim Shannon MP (DUP); Marsha Chantol de Cordova MP (Labour); Julie Cooper MP (Labour) and more.

VISION 2020 also brought people together. Can you tell me how it brought the different eye care organisations and professional bodies together over the years?
VISION 2020 UK/Vision UK brought together the eye health and sight loss sector (3rd sector, professional and medical) through our mission to improve lives by raising the priority given to eye health and sight loss.

We formed committees around specific issues (public health, accessible technology, medical and social eye research for example) to work with local and national organisations inside and outside of the eye health and sight loss sector, local and national government.

The membership of VISION 2020 UK/Vision UK was across the sector from RNIB and Guide Dogs to the Federation of Dispensing Opticians to the College of Optometrists, Royal College of Ophthalmologists and the General Optical Council. Due to our neutral and facilitative status we both: provided a space for diverse organisations to collaborate, co-operate and co-produce with Blind and partially sighted people and led on specific strategic projects which were supported and promoted by our membership.

What do you think was V2020’s biggest achievement, in UK and globally?
Bringing collaboration and co-production to a sector which did not always find it easy to work together for the benefit of it’s recipients and partners. The promotion of World Sight day to ensure eye health, blindness, partial sight are on the international agenda and the World report on Vision which brings eye health and sight loss into the mainstream of health and social care policies world-wide.