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12 March 2021

Member update – 12 March

This week:

FODO supports whistleblowing and speaking up guidance

FODO Group Director David Hewlett discusses the concepts of Speaking Up and whistleblowing on this podcast. Optometrists can gain a CET point by listening to this free DOCET podcast and completing a simple exercise.
This week, FODO also submitted a response to the GOC consultation on its draft Speaking Up guidance. FODO welcomed the guidance and provided feedback on other steps that could be taken to support raising concerns and speaking up. 

Read our response.

GOC launches 2021 registrant survey

The GOC has launched its registrant survey 2021. It hopes the study will provide valuable insights into the profession and improve the way it regulates. The survey takes about 15 minutes to complete and closes on 12 April 2021. People who take part have an opportunity to win £100.
Take part in the survey

Covid lateral flow tests - England

Members in England should have received an email invitation to order new lateral flow devices (LFDs) this week. Once you have your invitation, you can use the PCSE online portal to complete your order. NHS England has asked us to remind practices that while using LFDs is voluntary, you must report test results online if you use them. 

PCSE sorry about e-GOS system delays

Primary Care Support England (PCSE) apologised this week about repeated issues users have experienced when using PCSE online to process e-GOS.
PCSE said it was working to restore a normal service as soon as possible. It has not yet provided any detail on the cause of the technical issues but said it would keep all users up to date with developments.
FODO members experiencing delays and associated costs due to system hold-ups are encouraged to email [email protected]

Northern Ireland optometry bulletin

The HSCB has published its March Bulletin. The update includes a reminder to claim PPE costs, how to claim your CET grant, and more. Members in Northern Ireland are advised to read the bulletin in full

Scotland new PCA

The Scottish Government has published a new PCA. The PCA provides an update on moving to the pull model of PPE ordering and changes to the financial support package for GOS contractors.
Data shows that in January, practice-based eye examination activity was at approximately 70% of the level seen in January 2020. Although the data shows activity rates at a practice level "vary greatly", the government confirmed it would be continuing a minimum threshold of activity to be eligible for financial support in future months.

Opportunity: Chair of the Optometric Advisory Board Scotland

The Optometric Advisory Board for Scotland is looking for a new chair from May 2021.

At this stage, NES Optometry is inviting expressions of interest.

If you would like to express your interest or would like a copy of the Board's terms of reference, you should email [email protected] by midday Monday 22 March 2021. Interviews for the position are likely to be held virtually in April. 

Experts celebrate primary eye care success in Scotland

An expert working group has published its review of the General Ophthalmic Services (GOS) contract in Scotland. The group said: "Before 2006, approximately 25% of acute emergency eye cases were managed within a community setting whereas in 2018, over 80% of acute eye conditions were managed by community optometrists."
To maintain Scotland's status as a world-leading primary eye care service, the report recommends that: 

  • Universal access to NHS funded eye care should remain, as this has supported equality in access, early detection and monitoring of health conditions, and improved service efficiencies within primary and secondary care
  • There should be a rolling three-year funding settlement with the Scottish Government to support current services and further innovation, with an inbuilt minimum of 3% per annum, in real terms, on the fees for each item of service delivered
  • More needs to be done to support the use of innovative technologies like Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) in primary care, ensuring best practice models like those in Grampian and Lanarkshire are rolled out nationally, improving access to domiciliary services and training and education.

The group has also called for establishing RNIB's "Low Vision Plan" which is reflective of the Welsh Low Vision Service to ensure "equitable and consistent service provision across Scotland".

James Adams, Director at RNIB Scotland, said: "Optometrists can spot the first signs of sight problems when impairment of vision can be arrested or even reversed - it is therefore crucially important to promote the uptake of free eye examinations in Scotland."

FODO Scotland Chair Kathryn Trimmer said "I am delighted to see input from all sectors in this comprehensive report. All with the shared aim of continuing and building on the excellent service provision in community Optometry in Scotland"

Read the full Policy Report

Wales - Minister praises primary eye care providers

In a written statement on access to primary care services, Wales's health minister, Vaughan Gething, said that access to primary care had remained a priority throughout the pandemic.

He said: "Services have had to find ways to respond to the unique requirements of the pandemic, including social distancing, increased infection control measures and reducing physical contact where appropriate. This has been balanced with the need to maintain essential services and reintroduce routine services." 

Commenting on eye care, he said that "primary care optometry continues to respond swiftly and innovatively to patient demand during the pandemic, supporting wider primary healthcare provision".

He added: "During the recovery period, optometry is working with the Welsh Government and other key stakeholders to implement contract reform, moving to a clinical service model. This is a substantial change but one that will improve service delivery for the profession and improve outcomes for patients during the next decade."

Read the Minister's full statement

Employment law update

Read our employment law partner EW's blog on 5 employment law changes you need to know about in April. FODO members with HR questions can email us at [email protected] or call 01244 688422. 

Free training for vaccinators to support people with sight loss

The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) has a free training programme to support staff and volunteers working on the vaccine programme to be more confident in supporting people with sight loss. You can access three online models on eNetLearn

Consultation VAT and value shifting

HMRC is consulting on VAT and value shifting. The consultation closes on 30 March 2021. Please contact us by emailing [email protected] if you have any questions or would like to discuss the consultation. 

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