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05 January 2024

FODO member update - 5 January


This week:

Welsh optometrist receives OBE

David O'Sullivan, chief optometric adviser, Welsh Government, has received an OBE for services to eye care in Wales. FODO congratulates David, who played a key role in recent eye care reforms in Wales. 

Scotland updates

In the latest PCA, the Scottish Government sets out the following:

  • Proposals to change the submission period for GOS(S)1 eye examination payment claims from six to three months after the eye examination. The change would come into force on 1 April 2024  
  • Confirmation that current GOS(S)4 NHS optical voucher approval arrangements will remain in place until further notice
  • Revised NHS waiting times guidance and advice to read DL (2023) 32
  • Monitoring of patients using hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine is not part of GOS

The PCA also signposts a webinar about changes to undergraduate optometry degree courses in Scotland.

Practice owners in Scotland are advised to read the PCA in full

Scotland publishes standards for cataract surgery

Health Improvement Scotland has published standards for cataract surgery based on evidence, best practice and stakeholder recommendations. Several standards apply to primary eye care providers, including standard eight, which seeks to ensure that each person receives "effective, coordinated and person-centred post-operative care". The standards cover all complexity and apply to NHS and independent sector settings in Scotland.

Royal College president concerned about private care

The Royal College of Ophthalmologists' president, Professor Ben Burton, has told the Health Service Journal (HSJ) that he is concerned ophthalmology might become like dentistry where "patients face charges for services".

Professor Burton, who provides both NHS and private care, shared his view that the NHS is not allocating resources efficiently by treating "very mild" cataracts while others go blind.

He also told the HSJ that the NHS "used to do around 450,000 a year and we're now doing something like 650,000 a year. The number of people with cataracts has not gone up that much." However, it is unclear from the HSJ article what period this relates to and whether this activity takes account of the pandemic backlog and an ageing population over time.

He also raised concerns about how to train the next generation of cataract surgeons if patients continue to access NHS care from Royal College of Ophthalmologists' consultant members who work for independent sector providers. Although, separately, the Royal College has reported some progress on this front.
The HSJ also reports that chief medical officers (CMOs) of Spamedica, CHEC, Optegra, Newmedica and ACES issued a joint statement in response to claims made. The statement challenges the value judgement that patients with cataracts are less important and refers to data that the CMOs say demonstrates that the NHS is providing safe, quality care.

Optician - on the agenda in 2024

The Optician has asked leaders in the optical sector what they will focus on in the year ahead. Read views from FODO, ABDO, AIO, AOP, The College and Specsavers.  

Other sector news

  • Members in England are reminded to read the PCSE update on regulatory changes from 1 January 2024.
  • The College of Optometrists has written again to Peter May, permanent secretary of the Department of Health Northern Ireland, highlighting sector concerns about barriers to accessing eye care services due to Universal Credit changes.
  • Macular Society hopes its research will lead to new treatments. Read more.
  • LOCSU is to continue its listening exercise into 2024. Read more.
  • Primary Care Net reports that AIO and Smart Employee Eyecare are joining forces to bid for the DVLA contract in 2024.
  • Royal College of Ophthalmologists says its new strategy will boost excellence, development and voice. Read more.

Health policy updates

The sector in England continues to work on a standard service specification for MECS/CUES. Read more

The Provider Selection Regime (PSR) came into force in England on 1 January 2024. NHS England, ICBs, NHS trusts, NHS foundation trusts, and local authorities and combined authorities must now apply the PSR when procuring healthcare services. There are some updates to the PSR statutory guidance. You can also access additional resources and Frequently asked questions. For a quick overview, read FODO's previous update on the PSR. If you have any questions, please email [email protected]

The NHS in England is consulting on revisions to the NHS Payment Scheme and NHS Standard Contract. Modifications to the payment scheme also include proposals to reduce the unit prices for two cataract HRGs. The FODO Group will review both consultations on members' behalf across eye and hearing care. reports that the Scottish Government will abandon its original plan to create new care boards. 

The Scottish Government has also acknowledged it will have to think differently about NHS funding as fiscal pressures mount. It believes that increasing taxes alone is unlikely to provide a solution. Read more


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