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05 November 2021

FODO member update - 5 November

This week:

Leonie Milliner appointed as new GOC Chief Executive and Registrar

The General Optical Council (GOC) has appointed Leonie Milliner to succeed Lesley Longstone as its new chief executive and registrar. Lesley has held the position since 2018. Milliner, who will take up her new role in January 2022, is currently the GOC director of education and was previously chief executive of the General Osteopathic Council and the UK Voluntary Register of Nutritionists.

Dr Anne Wright CBE, GOC Chair of Council, said: "We are delighted to appoint Leonie Milliner as our new CEO and registrar, who has already played a central role in advising Council on reforms to our pre and post-registration education and training for optical professionals. The implementation of these reforms will be a priority moving forward, along with progressing a review of our organisational structure to best meet future needs and continuing to ensure that we meet the standards set by the Professional Standards Authority."   
David Hewlett at FODO said: "We know Leonie well from her lead role on the ESR. She has brought a breath of fresh air to the GOC, and we look forward to working closely with her as chief executive and registrar." 

Compulsory vaccinations for NHS staff move a step closer

The Times reports that Sajid Javid, the health secretary, is leaning toward 'compulsory vaccination' for healthcare workers in England from April 2022 and plans to make an announcement soon.
Chris Hopson, the chief executive of NHS Providers, has warned the government not to rush its plan but to consider the introduction of mandatory vaccination carefully. He highlighted two main risks:

  1. Avoiding cross infection by unvaccinated NHS staff - a survey of trust leaders by NHS Providers indicates a small majority would back mandatory staff vaccination
  2. Losing unvaccinated frontline staff when the service "is already under huge pressure and carrying 93,000 vacancies".

FODO shares the College of Optometrists' view that "vaccine uptake will be maximised where optometrists and practice staff are supported to make their own decisions, having been provided with clear, evidence-based information on the benefit and value of vaccinations without enforcing a mandatory scheme". See the College's full view

New 'Speaking up' guidance for GOC registrants - view from BLM

The lead partner from FODO's regulatory lawyers, Rosie Shapiro, has blogged about the GOC's new 'Speaking up' guidance, aimed at helping both individual and business registrants. The new guidance places a greater onus on registrants than existing standards and the professional duty of candour to identify and address patient and public safety issues. Read Rosie's blog.

If you have any doubts or concerns generally or about individual cases, please contact us at [email protected]

GOC publishes new CPD (previously CET) regulations

The GOC has published new regulations on Continuing Professional Development, which replace the Continuing Education and Training rules. The new rules come into effect on 1 January 2022 and apply in England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Read the new rules

NHS England launches new public campaign before 'winter like no other'

NHS England is launching a 'Help Us, Help You' campaign to encourage the public to use the NHS 111 online service to get medical advice quickly before winter.

  • TV adverts, social media posts, and billboards, targeting those who have urgent but non-life-threatening medical issues will promote the online service.
  • It will provide a place for patients to check their symptoms, whether an injury or illness requires further investigation, get information on mental health support services, or seek advice on how to take a medication.
  • Patients can use the online tool to seek advice on contacting their GP, visiting a pharmacist, or calling 999. If needed, people can opt for a call from a healthcare professional.
  • The online platform will not replace existing services but offers "an alternative way to get immediate medical advice" instead. The public is urged to continue to come forward for care and seek advice from a pharmacist, GP or the 111 phone service if they need more urgent support.

 The campaign follows record demand for emergency services and the 111 phone service in September. 

Welsh Health Minister pledges £170m extra a year for planned care services delivery transformation

The Welsh Health Minister, Eluned Morgan, has announced that the government will invest more than £170m extra per year in planned care across NHS Wales. The funding will predominantly focus on endoscopy, cataract, orthopaedic and diagnostic and imaging services. The fund will open for applications from 30 November 2021.

GOC's Honey Rose sanction quashed at High Court

The High Court has upheld an appeal brought by the Professional Standards Authority (PSA) against the General Optical Council's fitness to practise committee's sanction against optometrist Honey Rose.
Rose was given a nine-month suspension without review in December 2020. An FtP Committee had found her fitness to practise impaired by virtue of serious misconduct following a failure to spot papilloedema caused by a build-up of fluid on the brain of an eight-year-old who subsequently died of hydrocephalus.
The FtPC's decisions are subject to review by the under The NHS Reform and Health Care Professions Act 2002. The Act gives the Professional Standards Authority (PSA) powers to refer cases to the relevant court if it considers that an FtP decision is insufficient.
The GOC commented: "We acknowledge the judgement of the High Court to quash the decisions of our Fitness to Practise Committee (FTPC) regarding the case of optometrist Honey Rose. The matter has been remitted back to the GOC for a re-hearing."
Alan Tinger, FODO Director of Regulatory Affairs, said: "It is crucial to let this matter run its course without comment out of respect for the parents of the child. There are many complex issues involved as set out by Mrs Justice Collins Rice in her judgement and finding that the FTPC's determinations on impairment of FtP and sanction are quashed and remitted to a differently constituted FTPC for fresh determinations." 

Other sector news

M&S to roll out opticians service to 55 stores following successful trial
M&S announced, on 2 November, the rollout of its M&S Opticians service across its UK estate. The service will launch in 55 stores over the next 18 months (by April 2023). The rollout follows a successful trial, during which the service received a customer satisfaction rate of 96% and a customer recommendation rate of 96%.
Sacha Berendji, M&S Group Property, Store Development and IT Director, said: "We know our customers trust us to deliver first-rate specialist services - whether it's a suit-fit for a big occasion or a bra-fit appointment with one of our expert colleagues - and M&S Opticians is just the latest example of this. Feedback from our trial showed that customers loved the convenience of having an Opticians within our store, and we're really excited to be introducing the service to more stores across the UK and giving customers even more reasons to shop at M&S."
Nicholas Georgevic, Chairman of FODO member Owl Optical, said: "Following a very successful trial, we are extremely excited by the expansion plan for M&S Opticians over the next 18 months. Working in partnership with M&S, we aim to offer a market-leading optical and hearing care service across the whole of the UK spanning M&S glasses, designer brands, sunglasses, and our comprehensive hearing care customer proposition.
New strategic plan issued by NEI
The US-based National Eye Institute (NEI) has issued a new strategic plan called 2021 Vision for the Future. It charts the next five years of NEI's mission to eliminate vision loss and improve quality of life through vision research and addresses emerging eye and vision research themes.
NEI Director Michael F Chiang, MD, said: "NEI's strategic plan builds upon the past decade's major advances in regenerative medicine, genetics, artificial intelligence, personalised medicine, gene therapy, imaging, and more. It identifies research opportunities that may ultimately lead to improved quality of life and population health." 

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