Update on the draft Scottish budget for health 20/21

An update on the Scottish Budget 2020/21 was presented this afternoon by Kate Forbes MSP (Minister for Public Finance and Digital Economy; SNP, Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch).

Under the draft proposals the GOS budget is set to increase from £108.4m (2019-20) to £109.5m (2020-21).

From the Scottish budget:

“General Ophthalmic Services (GOS) Priorities

To ensure regular, free eye examinations of high quality are available to all Scottish residents, the Scottish Government is continuing to invest in General Ophthalmic Services (GOS). In 2020-21, the estimated budget for providing GOS will be £110 million.

Evidence suggests that there is increased demand for GOS, with the number of primary and supplementary eye care examinations in Scotland steadily increasing between 2006-07 and 2018-19.

Evidence also suggests that people are less likely to attend an eye examination if they live in a more deprived area. Of those people who attended a primary eye examination in 2018-19, 28.6% were in SIMD one (most deprived) compared with 33.6% in SIMD five (least deprived).

In order to tackle health inequalities, a national group is being formed with Optometry Scotland and other key stakeholders.

In addition, the policy area is supporting the development of a national low vision service. There is strong evidence[16] that access to low vision aids is presently a ‘postcode lottery’, and that improvements to the service would greatly increase a visually impaired person’s independence, mental health, and general wellbeing.”

“16. Scottish Government Review of Low Vision Service Provision in Scotland (2017) Gov.Scot/publications/review-low-vision-service-provision-scotland Court H, McLean G, Guthrie B, Mercer SW, Smith DJ. Visual impairment is associated with physical and mental comorbidities in older adults: a cross-sectional study.”

Optometry Scotland continue to lobby on behalf of the sector in Scotland and thank you for your ongoing support.