Manpower and duties of optometrists and orthoptist

10/1/2018

 

Following is a question by the Professor Hon Joseph Lee and a written reply by the Secretary for Food and Health, Professor Sophia Chan, in the Legislative Council today (January 10):

Question:

     Regarding the manpower and duties of optometrists and orthoptists, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) of the respective numbers of optometrists and orthoptists employed in each of the past three years by the Hospital Authority (HA) and the Department of Health (DH);

(2) of the respective (i) entry requirements (including the training received) and (ii) duties prescribed for the two grades by HA and DH; the overlapping duties of the two grades; and

(3) given that there is currently no recognised local training course for orthoptists, whether HA and DH have considered having the duties of orthoptists undertaken by optometrists, in order to cope with the increasing service demand; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?

Reply:

President,

     My reply to the three parts of the question raised by Professor Hon Joseph Lee is as follows:

(1) The respective numbers of optometrists and orthoptists employed in each of the past three years by the Hospital Authority (HA) and the Department of Health (DH) are tabulated below:

HA

  2014-15 2015-16 2016-17
Optometrists 67 67 70
Orthoptists 15 14 14

Note: The above manpower figures are calculated on a full-time equivalent basis, including permanent, contract and temporary staff in HA.

DH
  2014-15 2015-16 2016-17
Optometrists 16 16 16
Orthoptists 2 2 2

(2) The entry requirements for optometrists and orthoptists employed by HA and DH are as follows:

HA

Grade Rank Entry requirements/ qualifications
Optometrists Optometrists I

1. Obtained a recognised Optometry-related master degree or equivalent;

2. Registered in Part I of the Register of Optometrists under the Supplementary Medical Professions Ordinance (Cap 359) and possessed a valid Practising Certificate issued by the Optometrists Board; and

3. Possessed at least five-year postgraduate relevant clinical experience.
Optometrists II

1. Obtained a degree in Optometry from a local university, or equivalent; and

2. Registered in Part I of the Register of Optometrists under the Supplementary Medical Professions Ordinance (Cap 359) and possessed a valid Practising Certificate issued by the Optometrists Board.
Orthoptists Orthoptists I

1. Obtained a diploma or degree in Orthoptics, or equivalent;

2. Eligible for registration with the United Kingdom Council for Professions Supplementary to Medicine or Orthoptic Board of Australia, or equivalent; and

3. Possessed two-year full-time experience in Orthoptics.
Orthoptists II

1. Obtained a diploma or degree in Orthoptics, or equivalent; and

2. Eligible for registration with the United Kingdom Council for Professions Supplementary to Medicine or Orthoptic Board of Australia, or equivalent.

DH
Grade Rank Entry requirements/ qualifications
Optometrists --

1. Registered in Part I of the Register of Optometrists under the Supplementary Medical Professions Ordinance (Cap 359);

2. Possessed a valid Practising Certificate issued by the Optometrists Board;

3. Fulfilled the language proficiency requirements of Level 2 or above in Chinese Language and English Language in the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education Examination or the Hong Kong Certificate of Education Examination (HKCEE), or equivalent; and

4. Able to speak fluent Cantonese and simple English.

 

Orthoptists Orthoptist I

1. Obtained a diploma in Orthoptics issued by a recognised professional body, or equivalent;

2. Fulfilled the language proficiency requirements of Grade E or above in Chinese Language and English Language (Syllabus B) in the HKCEE, or equivalent;

3. Possessed a minimum of three-year post-qualification working experience; and

4. Able to speak fluent Cantonese.


      Currently, the major duties of optometrists and orthoptists under HA include evaluating visual acuity and visual functions. The optometrists are responsible for providing eye examination services, and prescribing and fitting of optical appliances for patients, such as examination for refractive error, and prescription and fitting of general/special spectacles and contact lenses. The orthoptists are responsible for providing assessment and treatment for patients with squint, amblyopia, ocular motility anomalies or visual function impairments, etc.

     The duties of orthoptists and optometrists under DH include evaluating visual acuity and visual functions of pre-school and school-age children and making referrals for further examination and treatment where necessary; providing optometric care and advice for children with visual problems; working together with other healthcare professionals in the planning of optometry service and the provision of support services; participating in optometric research and development/setting up of assessment tools; and conducting and participating in health education programmes/projects.

     HA and DH will employ relevant healthcare professionals to provide services according to healthcare service needs. There may be a certain degree of overlap in functions and roles between optometrists and orthoptists. Yet, same as the case in other healthcare professions, the two professions have been working closely with other healthcare professionals through a multi-disciplinary approach to provide seamless services by coordinating patients' various service needs, and minimise duplication of examinations or treatments.

(3)  While there is currently no recognised training course for orthoptists in Hong Kong, HA has been addressing the manpower needs by employing non-locally trained graduates in Orthoptics and implementing a training sponsorship scheme for non-local bachelor degree programmes in Orthoptics. Separately, DH will regrade the posts of orthoptists to optometrists in the long run.

     HA and DH will review the duties of healthcare professionals from time to time in order to ensure that their healthcare teams can provide appropriate healthcare services.


Last update: 2018-1-12