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12 February 2021

Member update – 12 February

This week


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Significant healthcare reforms announced

This week, the Department of Health and Social (DHSC) formally published its White Paper, Integration and Innovation: working together to improve health and social care for all, which will be implemented through new legislation (Health and Care Bill) in the current Parliament.

The proposed reforms cover significant changes to procurement regulations and competition rules in the NHS in England and provisions for 'Henry VIII powers' for the Secretary of State to make changes to professional regulation across the UK using regulations rather than acts of Parliament.

In a follow-up to the White Paper, NHS England has launched a consultation on procurement regulations changes, setting out plans for a new NHS provider selection regime. The FODO policy team is analysing proposals on behalf of members and the wider sector. 

The DHSC plans to work with devolved administrations and consult on proposals to increase flexibility in professional regulation, which would make it easier for lawmakers to remove professions from regulation and merge or close regulatory bodies. There are plans to consult on these proposals soon. 

If you have questions about these reforms, or want to participate in our response to the NHS provider selection regime consultation, please contact us by emailing [email protected].


College updates Guidance for Professional Practice

The College of Optometrists has updated its Guidance for Professional Practice following a routine three-year review. 

The update strengthens guidance on tackling abuse towards primary care teams and includes new guidance on imaging, needs-led examinations, examining people with hearing loss and examining patients with autism.

FODO commends the College on continuing the tradition of making this guidance open source for the benefit of the whole sector and patients. College members also have access to an app which has additional features. 


GOC announces new chair

The General Optical Council (GOC) has announced Dr Anne Wright CBE as Chair of Council. Dr Wright succeeds Gareth Hadley OBE, who has been Chair for eight years. Dr Wright will take up her appointment on 18 February 2021.

Dr Wright said: "I am delighted to have been appointed as the Chair of the GOC. With transformative projects such as the Education Strategic Review and the introduction of a new Continuing Professional Development model, as well as future legislative reform, it is an exciting time to be joining the Council."

Outgoing Chair, Gareth Hadley OBE, said: "I am pleased to be handing over my role to Anne, whose leadership and experience will be incredibly useful in guiding the GOC to achieve its vision of being recognised for delivering world-class regulation and excellent customer service." Read the full statement.


GOC approves new education and training requirements

Following extensive consultations on the Education Strategic Review (ESR), the Council of the GOC has approved new education and training requirements for qualifications leading to registration as a dispensing optician or optometrist.

Changes include more emphasis on developing professional capability and at least 48 weeks integrated learning and experience in practice. For the first time, qualifications in optometry will have a specified minimum Regulated Qualification Framework (RQF) of level 7; and for dispensing opticians, this has been increased from level 5 to level 6. 


Read more about this and other decisions made at the February Council meeting. 


Scotland to pay £500 bonus to frontline healthcare workers

The Scottish Government will make a one-off payment of £500 to all frontline healthcare workers to recognise their contribution during the pandemic. This will include community optometrists and their optometry practice teams, including administrative staff and practice managers. It also includes locums who meet the same criteria. Please note that applications for the payment must be made by 21 February 2021 and by an appropriate person. Read more.


Other sector news

UN Friends of Vision is hosting a webinar on 24 February at 1.30pm, including The Lancet Global Health Commission's formal launch on Global Eye Health and IAPB Vision Atlas. Register online.

Accelerate showcases its work on primary eye care in Wales.

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