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15 January 2021

Member update 15 January

This week

Vaccination update

Following the pan-sector vaccination update last week, please note that England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales have now published more detailed information about how they plan to roll out Covid-19 vaccinations.

Primary eye care remains a priority group, and you should be contacted based on how the programme rolls out locally.

In England, LOCSU has set up forms that you can complete if you are a locum that could not book your vaccination or a practice without an NHS contract. Learn more.

In Northern Ireland, you should read the latest HSC update, which includes a link that frontline teams can use to book their Covid-19 vaccination. Each member of the team should receive a copy of the letter on page 3 to take with them to their appointment.

Please also note that we understand online booking systems are planned in Scotland and Wales. We will update members once more information is available.     

For action: Wales – Covid-19

Members in Wales are advised to ensure they read and respond to the following:

  • Post Covid-19 reconciliation. The deadline to submit claims to be processed, in accordance with the time limits specified within the regulations, is close of play on Friday 22 January 2021. 

Northern Ireland – Covid-19 update 

The Health and Social Care Board (HSCB) has written to all practices to thank them for their continued efforts to maintain access to care. The 8 January letter confirms that “Optometry practices should continue to provide eyecare in line with current guidance both from HSCB and the professional bodies” and primary eye care remains in ‘amber’. Read more.    

College of Optometrists reconfirms current IPC and PPE measures are effective

The College reconfirms that Public Health England has advised it that current research and expert opinion suggests that existing guidance on IPC and recommended PPE are effective against new strains of the Covid-19 virus. Read more.

Update: Business interruption insurance

The BBC reported today that a Supreme Court judgment means tens of thousands of small businesses will receive insurance payouts covering losses from the first national lockdown.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) said: “370,000 policyholders were identified as holding 700 types of policies issued by 60 insurers that may be affected by the outcome of the test case.” The FCA now plans to publish a set of FAQs and a list of business interruption (BI) policies alongside guidance for policyholders that might be affected by today’s decision. 

Learn more on the FCA website. You might also want to talk to your insurance company or broker if you have questions about your BI policy.

Health regulators issue joint statement on Covid-19

The GOC has joined with other health and social care regulators to issue a statement recognising the challenging circumstances caused by the coronavirus. The statement thanks all registrants for their work throughout the pandemic and reiterates how regulators will approach concerns raised at this time.

The PSA supports the approach.

Optician launches survey on GOS

The Optician has launched a new survey which it hopes will help it better understand GOS in England.

The survey asks whether the level of eye care available through GOS “adequately meet patient needs”, and if the “rate of remuneration for NHS services is sufficient”. It also queries whether GOS requires “too much time and administration” and if the NHS paid more would readers “consider keeping NHS services”. Other questions include whether practices have considered “stopping NHS services completely” and if “GOS has an important role in the delivery of eye care” as well as about the relationship between primary and secondary eye care.

David Hewlett, FODO Director, said “This is well-meaning but is unlikely to lead to new insights or solutions.  From the NHS point of view, the legislative underpinning of GOS is designed to ensure it delivers excellent care to the whole populations and, when compared with alternative NHS commissioning arrangements, is an incredibly efficient way of delivering health service. It is still also a demand-led service delivered by registered clinicians in a competitive market. As a result, it is incredibly patient-focused. As to the key question of whether GOS is adequately funded, the simple and clear answer is no. It is a long way short of that, and this has been made abundantly clear to NHS England and the government.”

Access the Optician survey.

Charities raise awareness about the importance of eye care during the pandemic

This week, the BBC reported on Fight for Sight, RNIB, Royal College of Ophthalmologists and College of Optometrists raising awareness about the importance of seeking help for eye problems throughout the pandemic. Read more

GOC publishes draft Speaking Up guidance

The GOC has published draft Speaking Up guidance. The GOC said this was part of its goal to make sure that “everyone working in the optical sector is free and able to speak up about concerns they have, and therefore have created this guidance to make our expectations clear and, hopefully, give our registrants more confidence in speaking up when they need to”.

The GOC is consulting on the guidance, which closes on 10 March. Learn more and take part.

Optometry Scotland: Eyecare virtual exhibition 2021

OS will be hosting webinar sessions at the Eyecare Virtual Exhibition on 17 and 18 January. Participants can ask questions about the pandemic and how it affects primary eye care in Scotland. Learn more and register.

PCSE – time to move online

All GOS practices in England should now be moving to GOS online.

PCSE resources are designed to help you move from paper to e-GOS. Access PCSE resources on e-GOS.

Katrina Venerus from PCSE will be hosting a webinar on 19 January about the benefits of making the move. Sign up to the next webinar



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