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20 January 2023

FODO member update - 20 January

This week:

Labour calls for direct referral in eye care

Wes Streeting MP, shadow secretary of state for health and social care, told LBC radio that he supports all opticians having the facility to refer directly to ophthalmology.
He said this could help the NHS ensure patients were treated faster and "free up GP workload and save the NHS money". He added that where this is not in place, it was a "waste [of GPs'] time and money".
NHS England's latest operational and planning guidance also calls on ICSs to focus on expanding direct referral "where GP involvement is not clinically necessary". This includes ensuring optometrists can refer directly to ophthalmology for all urgent and elective eye consultations by September 2023, which may be difficult to achieve given the current state of NHS e-referral systems.
Nevertheless, FODO supports the principle behind this call to action and is working with sector partners and NHS England to develop and fund sustainable IT connectivity between primary and secondary eye care. To learn more and support the work FODO is doing, please email [email protected].  

NHS underfunding is putting primary care at risk in England

NHS-funded primary care, including pharmacy and optical services, is being put under significant and unsustainable pressure due to chronic NHS underfunding.
The OFNC has already warned NHS England about the impact its fee decisions have had on eye care services. Now pharmacists have raised a red flag and warned that thousands of pharmacies are at risk of closing due to NHS underfunding, with reports the sector has lost £1.6bn due to inflation alone since 2016. 

Member action - GOS in England

FODO is asking all members in England to let us know at [email protected] if you are thinking about giving up your GOS contract, reducing capacity for NHS-funded patients, or closing a practice because of NHS underfunding.

Optoversity Challenge 2023

Optoversity Challenge is back. It will start on 5 February with 12 optometry universities taking part in a light-hearted competition in aid of Vision Care for Homeless People
Vision Care for Homeless People has opportunities for more sponsors to support the event. Members can learn more by emailing [email protected].

GOC Council Associate applications are open

The GOC is looking to appoint two new associates. You must be a fully qualified optometrist or dispensing optician. The deadline for applications is 19 February 2023. Learn more and apply.  

Other sector news

More than 84 million items of free PPE have been claimed by primary eye care using the DHSC e-Portal.
The Royal College of Ophthalmologists (RCOphth) is providing an Ophthalmic Practitioner Training (OPT) Advanced Training the Trainers (TTT) course. It is open to all regional OPT leads. Read more.
The RCOphth said it is contributing to ongoing work to optimise cataract pathways in Scotland, with the goal of "increasing the number of cataracts performed per four-hour session to a minimum of eight, with bespoke centres delivering higher volume". Read more.
LOCSU has announced the 11 successful candidates it will support on the WOPEC Leadership Skills module for Optical Professionals, which starts in March 2023. Read more

Policy updates

As NHS funding pressures continue:

  • The Guardian reports there will be no new funding and any pay increase in response to pay disputes would have to come out of current allocations. 
  • Two of the largest pharmaceutical companies have left the UK's voluntary scheme for branded medicines, pricing, and access. Forbes reports this is due to a clawback system increasing to 26.5%.


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