Gail Stephenson, Head of the Directorate of Orthoptics and Vision Science, has been elected as the first British President of the European Association of Orthoptics (OCE).
The OCE was formed 25 years ago following the formation of the EU, with the aim to ensure that Orthoptics had a voice in the legislation from Brussels in relation to the working rights and standards of occupations across the EC.
The British and Irish Orthoptic Society was one of the founding members of this association and the OCE Council, which meets once a year, now has representatives from 15 countries including Germany and Sweden, with two countries having observer status, whose main role is to ensure representation and dialogue with Brussels.
Gail said: “As a small profession with a wide range of roles in the eye care team we can find ourselves underrepresented or totally omitted in health debates. To be consulted over European policy for both Health and the Education of Health Professionals we must have an established European group/association which is the main purpose of the OCE.”
The role of European President is in addition to her role as Vice President of the International Orthoptic Association, the world association of orthoptists, which promotes the development of orthoptics through research. These roles provide evidence of the status of the Orthoptic Directorate at the University of Liverpool in the European and world-wide orthoptic community.
Gail added: “It is important that British and Irish Orthoptists are represented at a European and International level and are involved in the decisions made to promote our profession. To justify our current and future practice we need to base this on a sound evidence base and examples of practice in other countries can support our own development whilst British research can form the basis of help to developing countries.”
World Orthoptic Day is on Monday 3 June 2013 which will help to increase the awareness of orthoptists and the association of the global impact of orthoptics.