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14 January 2022

FODO member update - 14 January

This week:

 

Covid updates

Isolation period cut in England

The isolation period for people who test positive for Covid will be cut to five full days in England from 17 January. An asymptomatic person who records two negative lateral flow tests on days five and six may return to work on day six, following five full days of isolation.
 
The College is seeking confirmation from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) that this policy change applies to healthcare workers and will update its Covid guidance as soon as possible. We will alert FODO members when this happens.
 
Free PPE extended for another year in England
 
DHSC has announced that free PPE via the DHSC PPE Portal will continue until March 2023, following a consultation last October.
 
OFNC, of which FODO is a member, had argued strongly for this to happen during the consultation and again in December.
 
NHS England Primary care sickness absence tracker
 
NHS England has improved the COVID-19 staff absence tracker to assist NHS organisations (including primary care contractors) in managing their COVID-19 related staff absence
 
NHS England is encouraging primary care contractors who have an NHS email log-in to use the tracker so it can form an overall picture of primary care absences.
 
This is not mandatory and GOS contractors are already required to notify their NHS England regional team if they need to close or cease proving GOS for any prolonged period.  
 
However, for those who wish to participate and use this tool, NHS England advises that "Community Pharmacies, Dental Practices and Opticians should select their NHS England and Improvement Region in the 'NHS Organisation' field.  Typing 'REGION' in the 'NHS Organisation' field will make it quicker and easier to locate your region from the drop-down list. You can then select your Pharmacy, Dental practice or Optician location in the 'NHS Site' field".  How to use tracker
 
Booster jabs for pregnant women
 
DHSC has launched a second campaign urging pregnant women to get their Covid booster to protect themselves and their babies.
 
NHS Covid surge deal with independent sector in England

Local hospitals can quickly activate surge capacity in the independent sector under a new three-month nationwide deal in England. It means 10 independent providers will put their staff and facilities on standby if Omicron leads to unsustainable levels of hospitalisations or staff absences. 

 

Health and Care Bill

Optical sector bodies continue to push for primary care representation in Integrated Care Partnerships (ICPs) in England in the Health and Care Bill.
 
The Bill is now at the House of Lords Committee Stage, having completed its passage through all Commons stages before Christmas. The primary care bodies, including OFNC, are pressing for the primary care sectors, including primary eye care via LOCS, to be included by right as formal members of all ICPs in England. Baroness Thornton, Lord Hunt, and Lord Crisp proposed a formal amendment backing the inclusion. See brief
 
The primary care bodies regard this as an essential part of the government's commitment to transparency and better integration in local healthcare commissioning. Its need is demonstrated by the HSJ finding that half of ICSs have not published board papers for the whole of 2021, contrary to NHSE policy. 

 

Westminster Hall debate on macular disease

The All Party Parliamentary Group on Eye Health and Visual Impairment, backed by the Macular Society, secured a Westminster Hall debate on macular disease. The debate contained no surprises, but the eye care minister, Maria Caulfield MP, said waiting treatment times and hospital visits must be reduced. She stressed that the government priority remains to tackle the elective backlog. Read transcript

 

GOC appoints optometrists to new council associate roles

The GOC has appointed two registrant optometrists - Rukaiya Anwar and Harry Singh Bhakar - as council associates, effective from 10 January. Council associates (a new role) take part in the GOC's council meetings and attend its Audit, Risk and Finance Committee. The council associate positions aim to increase the diversity of experiences and perspectives on the GOC Council while providing registrants with the first step towards a board, committee or panel role.

 

GOC future workforce analysis

On the back of its 2021 registrant survey, GOC commissioned a detailed analysis to inform future workforce planning. Results showed that around 60% of registrants are satisfied with their current role. Those who said they are dissatisfied are considering leaving the profession, reducing their hours, taking a career break, or switching to locum work. 

 

College of Optometrists announces research scholarships 2022

Applications are now open for College of Optometrists' research scholarships. This includes a new one-off opportunity for an optometrist at a postdoctoral level on research in swollen optic nerves. Applications close at 5pm, Tuesday 1 March 2022. More details and how to apply  

 

NICE guidelines on diabetic retinopathy

NICE is developing new guidelines on diabetic retinopathy and is inviting stakeholders to get involved. If you want to register to participate, log in to your NICE account or complete the registration form. A maximum of two people per organisation are allowed. 

 

National Care Service in Scotland

The Scottish government has commissioned KPMG to develop the business case and operating models for the Scottish government's proposed National Care Service. The work will provide a baseline and framework for the new system. But there are serious risks in this for the primary care professions .Optometry Scotland and BMA Scotland responded to the consultation highlighting these last October. FODO Scotland is keeping this under close review on behalf of members.  

 

Optical assistant training in Scotland

Applications are now open for the Scotland Level 5 (entry-level) and 7 (for more experienced practice staff) Certificates in Optical Care. Both courses are part-funded by NES Optometry - employers pay £200 (Level 5) or £250 (level 7) per person. Places are awarded on a first-come-first-served basis. Applications are accepted until the start of the courses in April. Both finish in December. For Level 5, apply here and Level 7 here

 

Obituary

We are very sad to report the passing of optometrist and former FODO member Karen Sparrow. FODO Director, David Hewlett said: "On behalf of FODO, we send our deepest condolences to our long-time colleague and friend Karen.  Karen (then at Vision Express) was a stalwart of FODO and continued in her education roles when moving to the AOP and then VAO and the WCSM. She will be missed at all levels of the profession here and overseas and by generations of trainees who have learned so much from her." 

 

Other sector news

Researchers discover an inflammation link between lupus and macular degeneration.
 
Experts warn that worldwide dementia cases will triple by 2050 from 57 million to 153 million. Due to an ageing and growing population, the rise is likely to affect domiciliary eye care services.
 
The government has started recruiting for the first patient safety commissioner for England.
 
OSA welcomes three new directors to its board: Jayne Abel of Eyespace Eyewear, Rob Barrow of Spec-Care Services and Laura Haverley of Keeler. 

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