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18 June 2021

FODO member update – 18 June

This week:

Resumption of GOS patient signatures - England

The Covid-19 easement, which means patients do not need to sign GOS claims, is due to end on 30 June 2021. So, from 1 July, patients will need to sign forms unless the Department of Health and Social Care notifies us otherwise.
We understand that this change will present some difficulties for members, not least because robust infection prevention and control measures should remain in place and requiring the use of pens is not ideal. However, at this stage, we recommend you prepare to resume patient signatures on 1 July, including clear policies on how to clean pens where a patient does not have their own.
The Department of Health and Social Care is keeping this under review however and we will update you if anything changes. 

NHS England - Integrated Care Systems: Design framework

This week, NHS England launched its Integrated Care Systems (ICSs): Design framework. The framework sets out more detail on how the new system will operate and helpfully reconfirms the NHS commitment that "primary care contracts will continue to be negotiated nationally", for which FODO and the other optical bodies have argued. Members in England are encouraged to read our detailed update on 

Mandating Covid-19 vaccinations in care home settings - England

Following its consultation on whether to mandate Covid-19 vaccinations for staff in care home settings, the government has concluded that, in England, it will require any professional visiting a care home to be vaccinated.
It has said this will apply to healthcare workers but will exclude those that have medical exemptions and those entering to assist with an emergency or carrying out urgent maintenance work; and those under the age of 18.
To mitigate the risk of staff shortages, the government said it had included a 16-week grace period, providing time for people to receive both vaccination doses.
The government has also said it will provide more support to key members of the workforce who might be "more vaccine-hesitant", including women of childbearing age, people from BAME groups and those with concerns about the vaccine based on religion or belief.
To address concerns about inadvertent breaches of data protection law, the government said it has "inserted a provision in the regulations so that a service provider may process information provided by a person wanting to prove their vaccination status, in accordance with the Data Protection Act 2018".
At this stage, we advise all members who provide domiciliary care to read the government's proposals and contact us directly if you have any questions by emailing [email protected]

GOS statistics - Northern Ireland

The latest GOS data in Northern Ireland show that there were 271 practices at the end of March 2021, and 95% of the population live within five miles of a primary eye care practice.
The pandemic meant that only 311,000 eye examinations were performed, a decrease of 34% of 34% from 2019/20. Over the same period, there were 30,555 unique assessments at the Northern Ireland Primary Eyecare Assessment and Referral Service, a 22% increase on 2019/20, with 15% of assessments provided remotely.

The cost of primary eye care provision increased by 3% to almost £24.4 million in 2020/21, with Covid-19 payments (including Finance Support Scheme payments and PPE) making up 31%.  

PCSE updates - England

Primary Care Support England (PCSE) says any adjustments on your July GOS payment to reflect the GOS sight test and domiciliary fees increase will be included on your PCSE Online statement. The adjustment relates to claims made after 1 April, when the fees increased and before 28 April, when payments began.

PCSE Online will not be available from 7pm on 26 June to 11am on 27 June to allow for the migration of its data centre, which should clear up system latency issues experienced by some users.

For details of what to do when PCSE Online is unavailable, read Business Continuity Guidance for Ophthalmic Contractors

FODO and NCHA respond to government's regulatory reform consultation

FODO and the NCHA have submitted a joint response to the Department of Health and Social Care's consultation: Regulating healthcare professionals, protecting the public. Read our response

£36 million boost for AI technologies to revolutionise NHS care

The government has announced £36 million in funding for 38 new artificial intelligence (AI) projects to help improve diagnosis and care.

University College London, Moorfields Ophthalmic Reading Centre, is one body to have received funding for its Eye2Gene initiative. The programme aims to explore the use of AI to determine which genetic condition is causing a patient's inherited retinal disease by examining eye scans. Read more

Other sector news

Health Minister Robin Swann has launched a new £700m Elective Care Framework, which sets out a detailed roadmap for tackling hospital waiting lists in Northern Ireland. The plans include 'megaclinics' for cataract assessments, which are expected to be in place by September.
The GOC has published the findings of a literature review it commissioned to identify any barriers or facilitators to non-medical prescribing that impact the profession.
European Council of Optometry and Optics (ECCO) has published its June newsletter.
Ngonidzaishe Adam Mapani, Professor Caroline Jan MacEwan, Alison Stannard, and Blanche Louise Back have all been recognised in the Queen's Birthday Honours List 2021

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