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02 October 2020

FODO’s Friday roundup – sector news - 2 October

This week's news


Spread the cost of tax payments 

HMRC has confirmed that from 1 October more people who complete Self-Assessment will be able to apply to spread the cost of their tax bill. People who have tax liabilities of up to £30,000 can now apply online to pay their bill in 12 monthly instalments. Read more.      


College of Optometrists raises concerns about education funding 

The College of Optometrists says the General Optical Council's proposed new framework for optometric education resulting from its Educational Strategic Review, has "many positive aspects" and that the proposals support "the profession's development and responsiveness to changing models of care". However, it has concerns about how the proposed model will be funded. 

Sally Gosling, Director of Education at the College, reiterated that it "is crucial for all stakeholders - including education providers, students, employers and patients - to determine how the ESR proposals can safely be taken forward in a timely, planned, fully informed way". 

The College also co-signed a joint statement with the AOP and Optometry Schools Council about funding concerns. Read more

FODO has commented that this highlights the need for the GOC to manage risks and work with universities on funding challenges as the sector moves to a new system. 

Part of the challenge lies in the way optometry courses have historically been funded as technical, not clinical qualifications, and we know that the GOC is very supportive of changes to enhance funding.FODO will continue to work with all parties to ensure that education and undergraduate interests are protected and that students can have the highest quality and adequately funded education and training now and into the future.  


Important updates for domiciliary providers 

Primary Care Support England (PCSE) has produced a short video on how to use its online pre-visit notification (PVN). Watch the video

If you cannot submit PVNs electronically, you will need to complete the new standardised PVN template and email it to [email protected]

Learn more about PVN and payments.  


Northern Ireland highlights the importance of getting eyes tested 

nidirect has promoted the importance of regular sight tests as part of National Eye Health Week (NEHW). The government website reminds everybody in Northern Ireland about the "importance of good eye health and of having their eyes tested every two years. Looking after your eyes is just as important as looking after the rest of your body." Read the full article.        


Coaching support for primary care staff 

NHS England and NHS Improvement is reminding staff working in primary care services about its free NHS offer of coaching for psychological wellbeing and resilience , #Lookingafteryoutoo. 

It introduced the initiative in April as a direct response to Covid, and more than 1,000 people have taken up the offer to date. 

Richard Everitt, Senior Programme Lead: Optical Services Commissioning, said: "The main objective is to ensure staff feel supported to maintain their psychological wellbeing and resilience during this time by having access to individually tailored coaching support." 

The service is available seven days a week from 8am-10pm Monday to Friday and 10am-6pm at the weekend. Read more.  


Update - GOS Scotland 

The Directorate of Primary Care has re-confirmed that GOS(S)1 'cheque book' slips do not need to be completed while the current suspension of patient and patient representative signatures remains in effect due to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The announcement follows clarification from NHS Counter Fraud Services and applies to both face to face and remote consultations. So, you can discard any GOS(S)1 'cheque book' slips that you have retained for eye examinations undertaken after 20 March 2020 (when the suspension of signatures was first announced in PCA(O)2020(4))

Practitioners are also advised that they do not need to retain the relevant paper form regarding a GOS(S)3 or GOS(S)4 optical voucher payment claim via eOphthalmic. 

In line with College of Optometrists guidance, practitioners must ensure that the patient's record contains the date of the eye examination. It recommends that the nature of the consultation should also be recorded i.e. face to face or remote.  


Other sector news 

Marsha De Cordova MP asked the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care in England about funding the restart of ophthalmology services and increasing capacity to meet need following the Covid-19 outbreak. The government responded by setting out that ophthalmology was included in an additional £3bn in funding for the NHS. The funding is also to support "continued access to the independent sector to carry out routine treatments and procedures as well as provide additional capacity". 

The LOCSU clinical pathway for people with learning disabilities has been updated, with joint input from LOCSU, ABDO, SeeAbility, Mencap and WOPEC. Access the updated pathway

Parul Desai (Moorfields Eye Hospital), David Parkins (King's College Hospital) and Zoe Richmond (LOCSU) have published an article on CUES, 'A Catalyst for Change'. The article includes a map of service provision across England, with most areas having MECS, and CUES adding services to other regions. 

This week, the Optician reported that the Ophthalmic Practitioners Group (OPG) has formed a trade union offering in partnership with Prospect Union for all GOC registrants. 

ABDO has published its new-look annual report for 2019. Download the 2019 Annual Report

The College of Optometrists question-time event on Covid-19 will take place on 6 October from 7.30-9.30pm. The event will cover feedback on the impact of the pandemic and views on the future of eye care across the UK. Read more.  

100% Optical will now take place on 8-10 May rather than in January as originally planned.    


Member reminder - advice from our employment law partner 

Our colleagues at WorkNest have issued the following advice after the UK government introduced a new legal duty to self-isolate if you test positive for Covid-19 in England.  

The law also means:

  • An employer must not knowingly allow a self-isolating worker or a self-isolating agency worker to be present anywhere for work purposes, other than the place where they are self-isolating.
  • An employee must inform their employer that they have to self-isolate.

In light of these new legal obligations:

  • If an employee tests positive for Covid-19, is contacted by Test and Trace and told to self-isolate, or live (or are in a support bubble) with someone who has tested positive, you must notify your employer immediately. It is a serious act of misconduct not to do so. It will also be an offence under the new regulations and could result in a fine.
  • Once employers know about an employee who has tested positive, they must not allow them to enter the workplace. If an employee can work from home, ask them to do so. If not, treat them as sick and entitled to [statutory sick pay OR contractual sick pay] for the self-isolation period.

Members can get in touch for more advice by emailing [email protected] or phone 01244 688422.   

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