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29 October 2021

FODO member update - 29 October


This week:


GOC publishes new Speaking Up guidance for registrants


The GOC has released new Speaking Up guidance. It said this is aimed at helping "registrants in situations where they need to consider the professional requirement to speak up when patient or public safety may be at risk".
 
The guidance covers all concerns, including when "something appears seriously wrong or is not in accordance with the accepted standards for optometrists and dispensing opticians, optical businesses and students".
 
Marie Bunby, Head of Policy and Standards, said the GOC wanted to create a speaking-up culture. Marie said that "some registrants have the impression" that the GOC did not investigate business registrants, but 9% of investigations it opened were into business registrants.
 
She said: "We encourage all registrants to undertake continuing professional development (CPD) in this area, so they feel confident to speak up when they need to protect the public. We will be working with other organisations to encourage CPD." 


New consultation on the GOC's approach to illegal practice


The GOC has launched a consultation on its revised illegal practice strategy and protocol. The GOC said this should enable it to "be more proactive in its approach and provide clarity on when it will take action and what action will be taken". The consultation is hosted on the GOC consultation hub and will close on 19 January 2022.
 
FODO will review the consultation and respond on behalf of members. If you wish to take part or have any feedback, please send this to [email protected]


Budget 2021

This year's Autumn Budget is important for two reasons:

  1. It's the second this year ­- there was also a Budget in March
  2. It accompanies the results of a spending review (SR21), which details how the government will fund public services for the next three years.

Main points
 
UK economy

  • UK economic growth for 2021 has been revised upwards from 4% to 6.5%, with the UK economy forecast to return to pre-Covid levels by 2022
  • Unemployment is expected to peak at 5.2% next year (lower than the 11.9% previously predicted)
  • Wages have grown in real terms by 3.4% since February 2020
  • Inflation to rise from 3.1% to 4% in 2022, driven by supply chain pressures.

Health

  • The NHS capital budget will increase to £177bn by 2024/25, the largest rise since 2010 - part-funded by the new Health and Social Care Levy
  • NHS England will get £5.9bn to tackle the backlog of people waiting for tests and scans. That covers:
    • £2.3bn for diagnostic tests, including funding for at least 100 new Community Diagnostics Centres in England over the next three years
    • £1.5bn on beds equipment and new 'surgical hubs'
    • 50m more GP appointments
    • £2.1bn to improve IT
  • This supports a mixture of old and new proposals, including the commitment to 40 new hospitals, plus 70 hospital upgrades and 50,000 more nurses
  • DHSC will get £5bn over the next three years for research and development. This includes £95m that will go towards researching methods for treating cancer, obesity and mental health
  • The government wants new NHS investment over the SR21 period to ensure a bigger and better trained NHS workforce.

Business

  • A rise in the National Living Wage for those over 23 from £8.91 per hour to £9.50 (6.6%) will come into effect from 1 April 2022. The rise means a full-time worker will get £1,074 extra a year before tax. So, the increase will add to the wage bill of an optical practice with workers over 23 years old
  • Business rates re-evaluation every three years from 2023
  • Next year's planned increase in the business rates multiplier will be cancelled. This is worth £4.6bn in total over the next five years - the impact will vary according to individual premises.

UK-wide funding

When the government announces extra spending on areas that only affect England, the other nations get a pro-rata uplift to spend as they choose under the Barnett formula. So Scottish Government funding will go up by £4.6bn, Welsh government funding by £2.5bn, and £1.6bn for the Northern Ireland Executive.

Scotland also has income tax-raising powers, which means its investment plans can differ from the rest of the UK. The Scottish Government will publish its Budget on 9 December. 


Medicines recall: Bimatoprost


Aspire Pharma Limited is recalling specific batches of Bimatoprost Aspire 0.3mg/ml eye drops solution in a single-dose container 0.4ml x 30 as a precautionary measure. Read more on the MHRA website


Optometry: delivering 'A Healthier Wales' 2021 to 2031


The Welsh Government has endorsed and published the Welsh Optometric Committee's (WOC) plan, Optometry: Delivering a Healthier Wales 2021.
 
This includes plans for a revised GOS contract with better fees for sight testing and primary eye care services, enabling more patients to be managed in primary care without attending the hospital. The Welsh Government and WOC have set the following goals.

2024 Goals:

  • A new contract for primary care optometry with a focus on clinical care to be rolled out across Wales bringing together GOS, EHEW, domiciliary and low-vision services.
  • The contract for primary care optometry will incorporate a suite of enhanced eye care services that enables more patients to be managed close to home, rather than being referred to hospital.
  • Updated governance for domiciliary services to enable people to access urgent eye care and pre/post-operative pathways at home if they cannot attend an optometry practice.
  • Information will be collected electronically to enable activity, workforce and capacity information about primary care to be reported to a live dashboard.

2031 Goals:

  • The new contract for primary care optometry to prove flexible enough to allow existing services to be adapted and new services to be developed, keeping pace with demand and advances in technology, treatments and training.
  • Practice-level clinical audits and research to be routinely conducted in primary eye care.
  • Outcome measures that matter to patients will be embedded in routine optometric clinical care.

In related news, Optometry Wales (OW) hosted a Q&A session with the Welsh Government last month. The Q&A confirmed the intention is to invest most in the GOS sight test service and that the goal is "to truly recognise the value that we deliver in terms of refractive correction".
 
The Welsh Government and OW said the "main cause of sight loss in the UK is refractive error", accounting for 39% of avoidable sight loss, and as a result they "must ensure [they] are able to provide this service in order to reduce this figure".
 
David Hewlett of FODO said: "FODO supports WOC's vision and welcomes Welsh Government plans for new investment in sight test fees while ensuring people continue to have equitable access to vision correction.
 
"We fully support making better use of primary eye care skills and facilities and a more significant role for primary eye care in local NHS planning. The key now is to ensure a sustainable funding model which improves patient access to eye care and vision correction."
 
Optometry Wales has asked for feedback ahead of fee discussions, stating "questions and feedback is always welcomed as formal negotiations have not started yet. If you would like to feedback to OW, you can do this via your Regional Optical Committee (ROC) through [email protected]  or via OW social media platforms."
 
Members can also contact us by emailing [email protected] and we will share your feedback with OW. 


NHS Scotland - updated guidance on inter-referral for minor eye conditions (and new referral form) under Pharmacy First Scotland


The Scottish Government has issued updated joint optometry and pharmacy guidance for the management of minor eye conditions (NHS circular PCA(O)(2021)11 and PCA(P)(2021)17) as part of the NHS Pharmacy First Scotland service, along with an updated referral form to be used with immediate effect - see both here. There have been some changes made to the eye products that can be supplied by community pharmacies. 


NHS updates diabetic eye screening information


Public Health England (PHE) has updated its patient information on diabetic retinopathy screening. Members might find these helpful.


Job opportunities at Teesside University


The School of Health & Life Sciences is the largest school at Teesside University and is now recruiting the following posts to its optometry department.


ABDO general secretary announces retirement


Sir Anthony Garrett CBE Hon FBDO has announced that he is stepping down as ABDO general secretary at the end of 2022 after more than 20 years in charge.
 
His retirement comes as the Association enters a "new and exciting chapter", he said. And it was appropriate "that a new chief executive be appointed to oversee our future activities over the long term". However, Sir Anthony will continue to look after ABDO College affairs.
 
FODO group director David Hewlett said: "Tony will be missed by everyone in optics when he retires. Not only has he made ABDO and the ABDO College what they are today, he has been a stalwart of the sector in the UK, in Europe and internationally, and an indefatigable champion of the roles of dispensing and contact lens opticians and of the importance of high quality dispensing. Tony is also a superb psephologist. The sector will not be the same without him and everyone will wish him a long and happy retirement."  


Optometry First webinar invitation


LOCSU and the National Eye Care Recovery & Transformation Programme invite primary eyecare providers and professionals to a webinar on Optometry First.
 
The Microsoft Teams meeting is called 'How to build an Optometry First service' and occurs on 11 November from 7pm to 8pm. It will cover "primary eye care's contribution to both [the] recovery and the transformation of eye care services".
 
Read more and take part


CET claims window closing in England


Members are reminded that the 2021 CET claims window in England closes at midnight on 31 October. Please ensure you have submitted your CET claim by then as it cannot process claims after this date.
 
Submit to PCSE Online.
 
Learn more


Other sector news


The World Council of Optometry (WCO) is hosting Eyes Around the World - A Global Day of Learning on 20 November 2021. The education day will take place over 24 hours across three time zones. Learn more.
 
The GOC has published an update on new education requirements for optometry and dispensing optics. The article explains how the ESR will change the route to qualification for both optometrists and dispensing opticians. Read more.
 
Catch up on the fourth issue of FtP Focus. This issue looks at the fitness to practise process.
 
The PSA has given its view on the government's proposals for regulatory reform in the Health and Care Bill. The PSA says it "supports the government's proposals in the Health and Care Bill for reform of professional regulation", expressing its preference for a single regulator.
 
The CMA has said its review of the EssilorLuxottica/Lenstec merger will not be referred for further investigation because "alternative players will continue to exert a strong competitive constraint" on the newly merged company.
 
Stepper Eyewear has donated £7,000 to Vision Care for Homeless People (VCHP), the Optician reports.

Moorfields' joint research project aims to support the widespread use of AI in the NHS. Read more.
 
The Royal College of Ophthalmologists said it is optimistic that the Spending Review presented an opportunity for long-term investment in NHS and eye care services.
 
The College also promotes a new resource on multi-professional skills to deliver new eye care pathways. FODO commented: "Any solution to ophthalmology pressures must involve investment in and better use of primary eye care skills and facilities. Otherwise, the growing need will simply outstrip capacity, and patients will find themselves back at square one with people losing their sight unnecessarily." 

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