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08 October 2021

FODO member update - 8 October

This week:

Extending free PPE to the health and care sector (England)

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has provided primary eye care providers with the option of free PPE via its online portal since late last year. The DHSC will continue to provide this PPE until 31 March 2022. However, it is now running a consultation on whether to extend access to free PPE after this date.

The DHSC said that "given current [Covid] case levels and guidance, we expect PPE usage to remain at Covid-19 levels beyond March 2022, putting significant upward pressure on health and care costs in the next financial year". However, it also has excess supplies, which mean it is exploring two options.

  1. Extend free PPE for 12 months. This would continue as now, but "if you receive free PPE via distribution routes other than the PPE portal, these routes may need to change, and customers onboarded to the portal".
  2. No extension of free PPE beyond 31 March 2022. This would require all providers to make plans to purchase their PPE from 31 March 2022. However, DHSC acknowledges that this option would "increase the cost burden on providers", so it would explore "funding options to help mitigate this".

The consultation closes on 31 October. FODO will work with sector partners and respond to this consultation on your behalf. If you have any feedback, please email [email protected] by 20 October. 

Optometry Scotland calls for 3% increase

Optometry Scotland (OS) reports on its bid for a 3% increase on fees this year. During National Eye Health Week, OS said that it "was proud to see its work discussed in the Scottish Parliament". It added: "Most crucially of all; the debate raised the important topic of Optometry Scotland's request for a 3% fee increase which was mentioned by three [MSPs]." 

NHS England - Afghan relocation and resettlement schemes

NHS England has published additional guidance for optometry practices on the Afghan relocation and resettlement schemes.
Individuals and families arriving in the UK under the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP) scheme or Afghan citizens' resettlement scheme (ACRS) will be entitled to free NHS care. People supported by UK Visas and Immigration (UKV&I) under section 95 are issued with HC2 certificates, usually within two weeks of their arrival.
However, if the patient attends an optometry practice but has not yet received their HC2 certificate, the advice to the practice is as follows:

  • Do not refuse eye care services or see them as a private patient
  • Complete a GOS form as standard, recording the bridging hotel as the patient's address
  • Tick 'Universal credit' as the eligibility criteria
  • Tick the 'Evidence not seen' option
  • Keep a note on the patient's record that the eligibility category had been selected as per NHS England & NHS Improvement guidance on submitting GOS claims for Afghan refugees.

FODO HR support - WorkNest

FODO practice owner members have access to expert HR support. To use the service, email [email protected] or call 01244 688422. You can also access HR and health and safety resources in your practice owner's hub.
Our employment law partner Ellis Whittam, which has now rebranded as WorkNest, provides our HR and health and safety guidance.
If you have any questions about this or other member benefits, please get in touch at [email protected] or by phone on 020 7298 5151. 

Free webinar on contracts and handbooks

Our employment law partner, WorkNest, is running a free webinar on contracts and handbooks. This will cover recommended protections, remote working considerations and regulatory updates to better protect employers from future unforeseen circumstances.
Senior employment law adviser Rachel Holding will discuss actions you can take now to ensure contracts are watertight and updated for hybrid and homeworking. She will also give a recap on the Good Work Plan changes.
There will be a chance to ask questions before or during the webinar. Register for free

Make a difference - volunteer for Vision Care for Homeless People

Vision Care for Homeless People (VCHP) urgently needs volunteers to provide eye care in Leeds, Exeter and Manchester. The charity seeks optometrists to test occasionally at the Birmingham and Leeds clinics on Mondays and Manchester on Wednesdays. It is also keen to hear from dispensing opticians and team leaders. Learn more and apply

Attend the DWP Kickstart employer webinar

The UK government Kickstart employer scheme funds a six-month job for a young person aged 16-24 years old on Universal Credit. For each young person you take on as a direct employer, you will receive £1,500 to support their learning. The DWP is running webinars next week on the scheme and how to apply. Learn more and register

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