Orthoptist appointed to DVLA advisory panel

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Dr Lauren Hepworth
Dr Lauren Hepworth

Dr Lauren Hepworth from the Department of Primary Care and Mental Health has been appointed as an expert member to the Secretary of State for Transport’s Honorary Medical Advisory Panel on Driving and Visual Disorders.

The purpose of the advisory panel is to provide the Secretary of State for Transport, in practise the Department of Transport (DfT) and the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA), with expert advice with the aim of maintaining and improving road safety. The panels meet twice a year and between meetings, may also provide additional advice to DVLA. This is the first time that orthoptists as a profession have been eligible to apply to be a panel member.

Dr Hepworth qualified as an Orthoptist in 2007 and joined the University of Liverpool in 2014. She is a specialist in the field of brain injury related visual impairment, particularly post-stroke. These conditions typically impact on the patient’s ability to drive, which means she frequently has to discuss driving with patients, in an objective way that follows the DVLA medical guidelines. She is also the academic lead for the BIOS Stroke and Neuro Rehab Clinical Advisory Group and chairs the Cheshire and Merseyside Council of AHP Research (CAHPR) hub.

Lauren said: "It is an honour to be invited to be an advisory panel member, and especially to be among one of the first orthoptists on the panel. My research has demonstrated how much visual impairment after brain injury and the driving regulations impact on quality of life. I look forward to using my expertise to advise on the guidelines surrounding vision and driving plus making these accessible for patients and clinicians."

Professor Fiona Rowe, Head of Primary Care and Mental Health, commented "Lauren plays a pivotal role in our VISION research group and her work extends across the Department and wider Institute. This latest appointment to the DVLA medical advisory panel is an indicator of the quality of Lauren’s work and extent to which she is known and respected within the orthoptic profession. I have no doubt she will be a well-informed voice and advocate on this panel."