Jo visited a local Eye Clinic Liaison Officer (ECLO) to learn more about the vital role they play in supporting people who have recently been told that they will lose their sight.
The ECLO at the Princess Royal Hospital in Orpington is funded through charitable donations and managed by Kent Association for the Blind.
ECLOs provide practical and emotional support, speaking 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 the ECLO for extra help and advice. ECLOs can offer patients the time that they need, where consultants may not be able to. The visit, organised by the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), highlights this essential work of ECLOs.
Jo Johnson MP said: "It was terrific to learn about the brilliant work that ECLOs carry out at the PRUH. The service provides essential support to people who have been newly diagnosed and don't know where to turn, and I would strongly encourage people in Orpington with sight issues to contact the eye clinic to learn how they might benefit."
Marie Jenkins, RNIB Regional Campaigns Officer for the South East said: "At RNIB we know that sight loss can have a devastating impact on a person's life. Stepping outside the hospital after first being diagnosed can be the start of a long journey. 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 complete Certificates of Visual Impairment and transferring people to the right social services departments."
Chris Wilsdon, ECLO said: "No one should face sight loss alone. Providing this service is fundamental for the people of Orpington 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."
Not all eye clinics currently have an ECLO who can help support people at the time of sight loss, so the ECLO in Orpington is an excellent example of the benefits of this service.
Photo: Jo with (L-R) King's College Hospital Trust CEO Tim Smart and ECLOs Chris Wilson and Marie Jenkins