09 October 2020
FODO’s Friday roundup – sector news - 9 October
- Breaking news: UK wide Job Support Scheme expanded
- Breaking news: Cash grants for businesses in England
- World Sight Day - Hope for Sight
- College of Optometrists launches new campaign and film - #FocusOnLife
- GOC responds to concerns about ESR funding
- GOC and education providers co-commission new research
- Optometry Scotland (OS) - Coronavirus update
- European Blue Book 2020 published
- New NHS data on ophthalmology activity in England
- New DOCET webinar - retinal and choroidal lesions
- BCLA - growing our CL business webinar
The Chancellor announced today that the government's Job Support Scheme (JSS) will be expanded to protect jobs and support UK businesses required to close their doors because of coronavirus restrictions.
The government will pay two thirds of eligible employees' salaries (or 67%), up to a maximum of £2,100 a month. Under the scheme, employers will not be required to contribute towards wages and only asked to cover NICS and pension contributions.
Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, said "The expansion of the JSS will provide a safety net for businesses across the UK who are required to temporarily close their doors, giving them the right support at the right time."
The JSS will begin on 1 November and will be available for six months, with a review point in January. The HMRC is to issue more detailed guidance shortly and we will update members when this becomes available.
The Chancellor also announced today the government would pay cash grants of up to £3,000 per month for businesses in England required to close in local lockdowns. The initiative aims to support businesses cover fixed costs. The grants will be linked to rateable values and be paid every two weeks. The HMRC is to issue more detailed guidance shortly and we will update members when this becomes available.
World Sight Day on 8 October marked 20 years since the VISION 2020 global initiative was launched by the World Health Organization to eliminate the leading causes of preventable and treatable blindness by the year 2020.
The annual event, led by the IAPB, this year promoted universal access to integrated personalised eye health and preventing avoidable sight loss. The European Coalition for Vision (ECV) believes that despite two decades of progress, serious eye health inequalities still need to be addressed within countries. It used World Sight Day to launch its Equal-eyes 2030 initiative to tackle inequalities in eye health in all European countries.
The ECV also highlighted the EUROVISION project, which it had supported, reveals that the burden of unmet eyecare needs falls equally on women, older people, smokers and those living in isolation.
The College of Optometrists is to launch a new PR campaign aimed at raising awareness about the importance of good vision and the role optometry plays in the nation's eye health. The College will also be reassuring the public that it is safe to visit their local opticians during the pandemic.
As part of its campaign the College has commissioned BAFTA-nominated director Mark Nunneley to create a short film, shot out of focus to help demonstrate the impact of living with reduced vision. The film will launch on YouTube, 8pm 20 October at a virtual premier. There will also be an opportunity to ask Mark and College clinical leads questions in a live Q&A. In the meantime, you can watch the trailer.
Alan Tinger, FODO Director, said: "It is great to see the College take this initiative. This week a large-scale survey found that while 80% of adults viewed an eye examination as important, 1 in 5 were reluctant or unable to schedule an eye exam due to the pandemic. We hope this College initiative will give people the information and confidence they need not to put their vision at risk and to have regular eye examinations throughout and beyond the pandemic."
This week, the GOC set out how it has commissioned consultants, experienced in higher and further education funding, to work with stakeholders and education providers to gather evidence on financial impacts of its Education Strategic Review (ESR). This builds on work the GOC had already published following the sector-wide funding roundtable held on 13 March 2020. The GOC Council paper 'Further and Higher Education Funding' included the outcomes.
The GOC confirmed that the consultants would produce a financial impact assessment which would be used by the Council and ESR Expert Advisory Groups (EAGs). This clarification (and the reminder about work already undertaken) come in response to concerns raised last week about funding the ESR by the College of Optometrists, AOP and the Optometry Schools Council.
As part of work on the Education Strategic Review (ESR), the GOC, College of Optometrists, ABDO, the Opticians Academic Schools Council and the Optometry Schools Council have co-commissioned new research from the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA). The study will gather evidence and recommend the most appropriate Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF) level for qualifications approved by the GOC.
Leonie Milliner, GOC Director of Education, said: "We are delighted to collaborate with the sector on this important piece of work and to work with the QAA on carrying out this research."
Douglas Blackstock, QAA's Chief Executive Officer, said: "As the UK's independent quality body for higher education, our experience in safeguarding standards and enhancing the quality of provision at universities and colleges will help deliver a framework ensuring opticians and optometrists have the necessary skills and knowledge in their future roles."
Following the Ministerial announcement this week of further restrictions in Scotland to help reduce the rate of infection, the OS Executive has confirmed that "Community Eyecare services will continue uninterrupted as part of the wider NHS remobilisation of Primary Care services in Scotland".
The European Council of Optometry and Optics has issued the fourth edition of the Blue Book.
The ECOO Blue Book 2020 sets out comparative data on the professions of optometry and optics across Europe, including how many people are in each discipline in each country, the scope of practice of each profession and their role in public health, education and training.
This week, NHS Digital published its annual Hospital Outpatient Activity report, covering all commissioned NHS activity in England. The report shows there were 96.4 million outpatient attendances in 2019-20 in total.
Data on cancellations showed that whereas patients were recorded as cancelling 7.5% of appointments, hospitals cancelled 8.7%. There was also a 6.2% reported DNA rate.
Within these totals, ophthalmology accounted for 7,934,291 attendances (8.2%), and 638,855 DNAs (8%).
Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon Prof Heinrich Heimann will host a live DOCET-funded webinar on 14 October, 7.30 to 8.30. The webinar will take participants through imaging and follow-up of retinal and choroidal lesions and the differentiation between benign and suspicious lesions.
The BCLA is hosting an opensource webinar on 15 October 6.30 to 7.30pm, covering how monthly payment care plans can help grow an existing contact lens business more sustainably. The webinar will also share findings of practice-based research on monthly payment care plans.