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26 March 2021

FODO member update – 26 March

This week

GOS fees in England to increase by 1.9%

The Department of Health and Social Care has confirmed it will increase GOS sight test fees by 1.9% from April 2021. The GOS CET allowances and pre-registration supervision grants will also rise by the same percentage. Read the OFNC's full statement

NHS England - eye care priorities for 2021/22

In its latest priorities and operational planning guidance, NHS England (NHSE) says it hopes to "reduce variation in access and outcomes", by maximising elective activity and "taking full advantage of the opportunities to transform the delivery of services". As part of this initiative, it expects the NHS to "implement whole pathway transformations and thereby improve performance" in "eye care with support via the National Pathway Improvement Programme".

Its implementation guidance sets out how NHSE plans to shift some of its direct commissioning functions to new Integrated Care Systems (ICSs). Although NHSE is still consulting on legislative change proposals, it "anticipates" ICSs will take on general ophthalmic commissioning from 1 April 2022 onwards.  

David Hewlett of FODO said: "FODO and every other optical body has stressed the importance of preserving the national sight testing and case finding service and infrastructure on public health grounds."

He added: "Irrespective of where in the system contracts are held, the priorities for FODO and the other optical bodies , must be to protect choice and access for patients and minimise bureaucracy for primary eye care contractors."

FODO has also responded to the Health and Select Committee inquiry into healthcare reforms, calling for the national sight-testing and case-finding service to be preserved and patient choice to be strengthened. Read our response.

Eye care reforms in Wales gather pace

Following the 11 March announcement of plans to reform eye care services in Wales, the Minister for Health and Social Services, Vaughan Gething, has announced that over £8.5m will be "invested to create a new Electronic Patient Record and digital Electronic Referral system for eye care in Wales". Read more about the national digital eye care patient record system.

This week, NHS Wales and the Welsh Government also published Future approach for optometry services. Pages 38 to 42 provide a summary table of what the government hopes will be delivered across Level 1 to 4 of the new GOS model. 

Northern Ireland extends Covid-19 financial support

The Health Minister has approved the continuation of the current financial support scheme for ophthalmic contractors for quarter 1 of 2021/22 (April, May and June). Learn more

Review of professional regulation

This week, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) published a consultation on Regulating Health Care Professionals, Protecting the Public.

The reforms cover four broad areas - governance and operating framework, education and training, registration, and fitness to practise (FTP). The consultation also sets out "next steps for the reform of professional regulation" to follow this consultation.

The consultation notes that:

  • Any changes to regulating businesses "will be considered and consulted on when our reforms are delivered into that regulator's legislation".
  • "The GOC is the only regulator which holds a student register". The proposal is to "remove any powers or duties for regulators to hold a register of students", which includes "removing the duty on the GOC to hold a student register"
  • There is a general preference to move to a unitary board structure.

The government also intends to:

  • "Commission a review of the professions that are currently regulated in the UK, to consider whether statutory regulation remains appropriate for these professions"
  • "Commission an independent review of the number of regulators."

Read the GOC's statement on the consultation.

The FODO policy team will analyse this consultation in detail on behalf of all members and draft a response. If you have any questions or would like to contribute, please email us at [email protected]

GOS forms in England - patient signatures

As part of infection, prevention and control (IPC) measures, NHS England introduced an easement whereby GOS claims can be submitted without a patient signature, as long as you enter 'COVID-19' in the patient signature box. This was originally due to end on 31 March. However, given the need for ongoing IPC, this easement will continue until further notice from NHS England. 

BCLA launches CLEAR

The BLCA has published a series of articles known as the Contact Lens Evidence-based Academic Reports (CLEAR). The reports cover a wide range of topics, including contact lens complications, evidence-based contact lens practice and orthokeratology. The BCLA said the CLEAR initiative "delivers evidence-based guidance on all aspects of prescribing and fitting contact lenses will act as a 'blueprint for the future' of the profession and help deliver the best-possible patient care". The articles will be freely available online for 12 months. Access all CLEAR articles

Other sector news

The GOC is recruiting for a registrant who lives or works in Scotland to join the Council and play a leading role in shaping our future in response to significant external changes in the healthcare sector. Learn more and apply.

The GOC Council has published the outcome of its consultation on their plans to introduce lifetime registration numbers and confirmed it would be introducing lifetime registration numbers with a prefix to help identify registrant types. This will come into effect from 1 April 2021.

The College has refined its Covid-19 traffic light phase definitions in response to "member feedback, the GOC's public consultation, and with the support of each nation's government". The College said it hoped the new definitions would "provide greater clarity for clinicians, practice teams and employers as the pandemic progresses".

Age UK, The Royal College of General Practitioners, and the British Geriatrics Society have endorsed the College of Optometrists' updated vision in preventing falls report

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