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10 March 2023

FODO member update - 10 March


This week:

NHS increases GOS voucher value by 4.5%

The NHS in England will increase voucher values by 4.5% from April, going some small way to helping children and adults on means tested benefits manage through the cost of living crisis. Read the OFNC statement.

Members have continued to contact FODO to share their concerns about plans to cut these patient benefits in Wales. Public Health Wales and Welsh politicians have simultaneously raised concerns about the impacts of the cost of living crisis on the poorest in society. At this stage, it appears the Welsh Government will reduce the level of NHS support children and adults on means tested benefits receive towards the cost of vision correction, subject to approval in the Senedd.

Much of the sector does not support this element of the reforms, including FODO, as it is a regressive policy. However, it is a change that could be imposed on the sector as part of the overall package of reforms. 

Scotland - patients paying for cataract surgery

This week, the BBC reports on long NHS waiting lists in Scotland, and how more patients are turning to private healthcare. They include an amateur photographer who said he decided to pay for private cataract surgery to avoid a two-year wait.

Members of Senedd visit Optometry Wales practices

On 3 March, @gwynnsopticians in Tredegar hosted a visit from @AlunDaviesMS, Member of the Senedd for Blaenau Gwent. Pictured with Alun is Matthew Jones who owns the practice.

To host a visit, please contact Optometry Wales or FODO.

PCSE IT upgrades

PCSE is upgrading IT systems in England this year. There will be no functional changes to the system overall, including the interface specifications, message schemas or data validation.
The upgrades will happen in two phases:

  • Phase 1 (March - April) - Interfaces underlying application upgrade.
  • Phase 2, Q4 2023 - Background services upgrade.

Phase 1 upgrades will take place in the User  Acceptance Testing (UAT) environment from 20 March to 3 April. UAT will be unavailable during this time.

So, PMS systems must conduct any regression testing required after 3 April 2023 but before the 14 April 2023. The PCSE team will provide support to those requiring it during the testing window and will run a session on 14 April to provide confirmation of a successful test outcome.

Any issues raised after 14 April will follow the normal process. We will ask PMS providers to repeat this in Q4 for Phase 2.

Should you see any unexpected outcomes during the testing period, or if you have any further questions, please email [email protected].  You must title your email 'PCSE IT Upgrade - PMS Interface Testing'.

Opportunity for FODO members - half-time optometric adviser with Scottish Government

The Scottish Government is recruiting for a half-time optometric adviser. FODO encourages any interested member to apply, bringing their clinical and corporate expertise to national policymaking. Kathryn Trimmer, chair FODO Scotland, said: "This is a massive opportunity, at a time of change, to help shape the future of primary eye care in Scotland for patients and the profession and we hope that many FODO members will apply for the role."  

The position is within the community eyecare team and requires an optometric adviser who will maintain clinical practice.

COA letter - Optometric adviser role advert -26 March closing date

Contact FODO to discuss any aspect of the role.

In memoriam - Richard Thorpe

FODO has learnt with sadness of the passing of Richard Thorpe. Richard died peacefully at home on 1 March following a short illness, three months short of his 100th birthday.

Richard was formerly secretary and chairman of the Society of Opticians, one of the founder organisations of FODO, a past Master of the Worshipful Company of Spectacle Makers, and actively involved in the detailed discussions and negotiations that led to the formation of the College of Optometrists.

We mourn the passing of one of eye care's 'greats', and our deepest sympathy goes to his family and friends at this sad time.  

Three in 10 NHS staff in England often think of quitting, survey finds

The NHS staff survey 2022 published on 9 March shows a five-year high for the proportion of NHS staff in England thinking of leaving last year. Amid high levels of burnout, stress and staff shortages, more than 30% said they often thought about leaving, and 17% said they wanted to leave as soon as they could find another job. The results for ambulance staff were especially concerning, with 49% reporting burnout.

Read the survey results.

View the NHSE response.  

GOC announces three new business representatives on Companies Committee

The General Optical Council (GOC) has appointed Amit Sharma, Gordon Dingwall, and Giles Edmonds to its Companies Committee. In their role as business representatives, they will advise the Council and other GOC committees about business registrant matters. Read more.

Other news

Voting now open for College Council elections. Read more.

College clinical adviser collects MBE from Princess Royal at Investiture Ceremony. Read more.

National conference to discuss care pathway for those losing their sight. Learn more.

The LOCSU Podcast: Women in Optics. Listen to the podcast.

No update 17 March

There will be no newsletter next week, however we will send any urgent news.
The following newsletter is on Friday 24 March. 

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