Funding boost for specialist support for people diagnosed with sight loss in Isle of Wight and Portsmouth

A Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) service which provides emotional and practical support to people newly diagnosed with sight loss has received a funding boost from Simplyhealth, the UK’s leading provider of health financing solutions. The funding will support the extension of two RNIB Eye Care Liaison Officer (ECLO) posts in Portsmouth and on the Isle of Wight.

This funding means that the Isle of Wight ECLO service, which is based in St Mary’s Hospital in Newport, and supports over 22,000 patients has been extended from part-time to full-time, while the Portsmouth service in Queen Alexandra Hospital, which supports 47,000 patients, can continue on a five-day basis.

An ECLO offers support and advice in areas including independent living, returning to work, benefit entitlements, use of technology, emotional support, and coping at home. ECLOs also give patients and their families the opportunity to talk about the impact of a sight loss diagnosis on their lives and to help those patients make informed choices about how to maximise their independence when living with sight loss.

Carolyn Chamberlain, RNIB Head of Eye Care & Confident Living

Receiving a sight loss diagnosis can be an overwhelming experience. ECLOs provide a vital service and ensure those patients who need help get tailored advice and support at a time when they need it the most. We are delighted to receive this generous funding from Simplyhealth, a long-standing supporter of RNIB, and we would like to thank them for continuing to recognise the value of RNIB’s ECLO service. This is another step in making sure no patient receives a diagnosis without support.

Carolyn Chamberlain, RNIB Head of Eye Care & Confident Living
Dr Sneh Khemka, Chief Executive Officer at Simplyhealth

We are driven by our long-standing purpose to improve access to healthcare for all in the UK. We are proud to fund this extension to RNIB’s ECLO service, which will help to reduce waiting times for patients and enable many more people dealing with sight loss to access the help and support they need.

Dr Sneh Khemka, Chief Executive Officer at Simplyhealth
Laura Gooljar, RNIB ECLO at St Mary’s Hospital on the Isle of Wight

I understand that if someone is told their sight is deteriorating, it's life-changing news. This applies to those with long-standing sight loss or newly diagnosed. My role is about reassuring the patient that they’re not alone and helping them get the right support and information in a timely manner to enable them to remain independent. I am looking forward to providing a greater level of support and advice, helping more people than before

Laura Gooljar, RNIB ECLO at St Mary’s Hospital on the Isle of Wight
Jo Harrington, RNIB ECLO at Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth

I focus on a person's needs and enable them to access the support they need to come to terms with their sight loss and live independent lives. I have enjoyed my first year working as an ECLO and look forward to supporting people for years to come.

Jo Harrington, RNIB ECLO at Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth

ECLOs form part of RNIB’s Sight Loss Advice Service, which provides practical and emotional support over the phone, face-to-face at many hospital eye clinics, or through online information. To find out more information about ECLOs, please visit RNIB’s website: www.rnib.org.uk/eclo


Notes to editors

All media enquiries to RNIB’s PR team on 0207 391 2223 or pressoffice@rnib.org.uk or for urgent enquiries out-of-hours, please call 07968 482812.

RNIB has been delivering an ECLO service for almost 30 years across the UK with the first ECLO employed in 1994. Approximately 50 percent of RNIB ECLOs have sight loss. ECLOs must successfully complete RNIB’s Eye Clinic Support Studies course, accredited by City, University of London, within 12 months of appointment. The service complies with the RNIB ECLO Quality Framework and Practice guidelines which is supported by the Royal College of Ophthalmologists.


About RNIB

We are the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB).

Every six minutes, someone in the UK begins to lose their sight. RNIB is taking a stand against exclusion, inequality, and isolation to create a world without barriers where people with sight loss can lead full lives. A different world where society values blind and partially sighted people not for the disabilities they’ve overcome, but for the people they are.

RNIB. See differently.

Call the RNIB Helpline on 0303 123 9999 or visit www.rnib.org.uk


About Simplyhealth

Since 1872, we’ve been helping people make the most of life through better everyday health. Our plans make sure individuals, families and employees can easily access in-person and virtual wellbeing services and afford to stay healthy by claiming costs back on dental treatments, visits to the optician, complementary therapies and much more.

Today we’re the UK’s leading provider of health financing solutions, with almost 1000 colleagues serving 2.3 million customers. We don’t have shareholders, so we’re led by our purpose of improving access to healthcare, for the many, for the long term. We’re passionate about using our voice in public health affairs and partnering with charities to reduce health inequality – each year we commit to giving 10% of pre-tax profits to a range of community causes. And we ensure our business takes care of the planet too, achieving Carbon Neutral + status in 2021.

To find out more, visit www.simplyhealth.co.uk

PR Contact Details

Tel: 0344 579 2489

Email: pr@simplyhealth.co.uk