Simplyhealth supports ground breaking project to enable GPs to detect sight loss earlier in older patients

Healthcare provider Simplyhealth is supporting a project which aims to raise awareness of the importance of eye health and the impact of sight loss amongst GPs and practice staff. The project which runs until March 2016 is jointly delivered by the Royal College of General Practitioners through its Clinical Champion, Dr Waqaar Shah, and the UK Vision Strategy, a coalition initiative of eye health and sight loss organisations.

Sight loss is common among older people: One in five people aged 75 and one in two aged 90 and over are living with sight loss [1]. Older people may put their sight difficulties down to ageing, and not mention them to GPs. Therefore, it is essential that GPs and their practice staff colleagues are aware of a person’s sight loss and its impacts, and look for unrecognised sight loss.

The project will deliver a series of training resources, webinars and events in 2015 and 2016 to provide training and support to GPs and practice staff throughout the UK. The training workshops will aim to increase knowledge and awareness amongst GPs and practice staff of the specific issues relating to older people with sight loss and how to make their practices more accessible.

The launch of the partnership with Simplyhealth comes after a recent survey revealed many GPs in the UK were not confident when diagnosing major eye diseases [2]. Just one third (34.1%) of respondents were confident in spotting the symptoms of age-related macular degeneration, with only half of GPs confident in recognising diabetic retinopathy (48.8%), or glaucoma (51.2%). The survey also found that only a quarter of respondents (26.1%) had been offered training on how to support patients who were blind and partially sighted and the majority of respondents (81.1%) expressed an interest in receiving training or guidance on how to support patients who were blind and partially sighted.

GPs and practice staff have told us that they need more training opportunities to increase their knowledge and confidence of the issues relating to older people with sight loss. We are delighted that Simplyhealth has kindly given its support to the Clinical Priority for Eye Health Project to make this possible as it will enable us to deliver significant improvements in preventing avoidable blindness and improving the quality of life for patients with sight loss.
RCGP Clinical Champion for Eye Health, Dr Waqaar Shah
Mark Hamson, Chairman of the Simplyhealth Charitable Committee
We are pleased that we are able to support important initiatives such as this though our charitable donations. We are committed to helping people to live healthy lives and are convinced that this educational programme designed for healthcare practitioners will contribute towards this.
Mark Hamson, Chairman of the Simplyhealth Charitable Committee


[1] Access Economics. 2009. Future Sight Loss UK 1: The economic impact of partial sight and blindness in the UK adult population. RNIB
[2] RCGP & UK Vision Strategy. 2014. Clinical priority on eye health GP awareness survey. Sample size: 296 :

For more information, please contact Jess Brice, UK Vision Strategy Communications Officer 0207 874 1364.

Notes to editors

About The Clinical Priority Project:

The aims of the RCGP and UK Vision Strategy eye health clinical priority programme include:

1. Reduce preventable sight loss amongst the ageing population across the UK
2. Improve referral to eye care services of any patients with signs of “correctable” sight loss
3. Enable more patients with unpreventable sight loss (which will include those who are blind or partially sighted) to maintain their independence for longer

For further information go to:

About The RCGP:

The RCGP are the professional membership body and guardian of standards for GPs across the UK, working to promote excellence in primary healthcare.

About The UK Vision Strategy:

The UK Vision Strategy seeks a major transformation in the UK’s eye health, eye care and sight loss services, with a determined, cross-sector approach to make that change a reality.

About Simplyhealth:

  • We became Simplyhealth in 2009 after bringing together HSA, BCWA, LHF, HealthSure, Totally Active, our family of health companies have joined together over the last ten years to form Simplyhealth
  • In December 2011, we acquired Denplan Limited, the UK's leading dental payment plan specialist
  • We’ve been providing healthcare solutions for over 140 years, dedicated to serving our customers and patients through a variety of cash plans, dental plans, private medical insurance, self-funded health plans and mobility and living aids
  • Simplyhealth is a trading name of Simplyhealth Access, which is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority.
  • Simplyhealth as it stands today, now covers nearly four million people with health plans (more than any other company) and helps 20,000 companies with their employees’ health
  • Simplyhealth is committed to making a positive impact on its communities. Each year, we donate over £1 million to health related charities and causes

For further information about Simplyhealth:

Caroline Newton, Public Relations and Social Media Manager 0844 579 2274