The Government has announced today that it is freezing GOS fees for the third year running. This comes as extremely disappointing news for the optical sector, particularly in light of the more generous offers being seen recently in other areas of NHS health provision.
The Optometric and Fees Negotiation Committee (OFNC), for which FODO provides the secretariat, has issued a press release in response to the news, which can be read here. In it, the OFNC calls the announcement “completely unacceptable” for the profession amid rising costs of running optical practices, and makes clear that the so-called ‘negotiated settlement’ amounts to a real terms cut to a key public service.
Speaking in her role as OFNC secretary, FODO Director of Policy and Strategy Ann Blackmore also criticised the lack of funding for IT connectivity:
“OFNC have stressed the urgent need for the Department and NHS England to find funding for IT connectivity in the coming year. The short-sighted rejection of previous bids and lack of risk assessment means that patients’ eyesight is at risk from the withdrawal of fax machines for urgent referrals. NHS Mail will be a temporary fix but the NHS drive to be paperless means the problem will return in spades unless there is investment in the optical sector.” – Ann Blackmore
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