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02 February 2024

FODO member update - 2 February


This week:

Last day to nominate Eye Care Professional of the Year

A reminder that nominations for the RNIB's See Differently Awards close today, 2 February, at 23.59. The Eye Care Professional of the Year award is for an individual who has dedicated their skills, passion and time to improving the lives of people living with vision impairment. Nominate somebody today

World Optometry Week 17-23 March

The World Council of Optometry has confirmed that World Optometry Week 2024 will occur from 17-23 March. World Optometry Day will be on 23 March. The theme this year is Advancing Optometry's Commitment to Global Eye Care

GOC renewal window open

You can now renew your GOC registrant for 2024/25. Go to your MyGOC account and click 'Apply for renewal'. You must do so by 15 March.

We also advise FODO practice owner members to ensure all individual registrants renew promptly to avoid any registration lapse. 

College sets out its priorities for 2024

The Royal College of Ophthalmologists (RCOphth) has set out its plan for securing sustainable ophthalmology services.  
Professor Ben Burton, RCOphth president, said that in 2024, the College would repeat its calls for more ophthalmology training places and call on the system to address chronic "under-resourcing". More detail will follow in Spring when the RCOphth will publish a "manifesto outlining key steps the next government needs to take to secure the sustainability of NHS eye care services".
The RCOphth has also announced that it will publish "a vision for integration with the College of Optometrists, setting out what needs to happen to enable more seamless patient care".
The RCOphth said it would also continue to support longstanding calls for better IT connectivity between primary and secondary eye care, which FODO and other primary eye care representatives have long called for as a critical enabler to delivering safe and effective eye care services.

OS Strategy 2024-2027

The Optometry Scotland (OS) 2024-2027 strategy describes how OS will ensure that Scotland remains a world leader in primary eye care by working with all stakeholders. The three strategic priorities for community eye care in Scotland are:

  • Lead a GOS and service enhancement agenda
  • Influence policy and workforce development
  • Build on the sector's collaborative voice through OS.

Other sector news

  • APPG launches inquiry on employer attitudes and employing blind and partially sighted people. Learn more.

Policy news

Primary care continues to suffer real-term cuts
NHS England's annual report explains how primary care was deprioritised for investment in 2022-23 due to inflationary pressures. NHS England was however able to fund more secondary care activity withs its underspend.
The NHS annual report states that the "real terms cut in core funding, combined with the high rate of inflation and operational pressures [...] has made this a very challenging year for the NHS". It reports that "NHS England delivered an underspend of £1,153 million". £600m was used to "offset overspending by NHS providers" and the balance to "offset the pressure caused by provider technical issues". It goes on to explain how inflation also meant it had to cut funding for "digital investment and for primary care".
Meanwhile, GP funding has seen a 7% real-term cut since 2019, reports Pulse magazine. The British Dental Association has also said spending on NHS dentistry has fallen by more than 30% since 2010, with a real-term cut of £1bn. While the pharmacy sector has celebrated the rollout of Pharmacy First (see below), it told the BBC that pharmacies are "severely underfunded" and at serious risk of closure.
FODO has also raised concerns about real-term cuts to primary eye care funding. Harjit Sandhu, managing director at FODO, said: "There have been significant and sustained cuts in real-term funding to primary eye care services in England, in the same way as GP, dentistry and pharmacy, and all these services are suffering as a result."
He added: "Every election and NHS plan in living memory promises to shift care out of hospital and invest more in prevention and primary care. However, the hard economic evidence points to business as usual, with significant under-investment in primary care. The NHS will not succeed until it invests in all primary care professions, as these services are at the heart of keeping people well and out of hospital for longer. That is why we call for change in Principles and priorities and make the case for change by fairer funding for the sight test and more investment for enhanced eye care services out of hospital and closer to home."
The Health Foundation has also called for a fundamental rethink. A recent report stated: "A larger proportion of the NHS budget was spent on hospital care and a declining share on prevention, primary and community care." It has also called for a "new deal for primary care to tackle the mismatch between demand and capacity by increasing the share of NHS investment it receives."
Green shoots for rethinking primary care?
Pharmacy First in England was formally launched this week after a multi-year investment of £645m. The initiative means millions can access support for seven common conditions, including earache, at over 10,000 pharmacies in England, potentially freeing up 10 million GP appointments annually.
The prime minister, Rishi Sunak, said: "Patients who need treatment or prescription medication for common conditions like an earache will now be able to get it directly from a pharmacy without a GP appointment."
Amanda Pritchard, NHS chief executive, said that most people live "within a 20-minute walk of a pharmacy and twice as many pharmacies in areas of deprivation. They are the perfect spot to offer people convenient care for common conditions."
Patient groups and the pharmacy sector welcomed the new investment in Pharmacy First, but the pharmacy sector has raised concerns about the underfunding of core services (see story above).
Meanwhile, the Nuffield Trust writes that after "decades of neglect", a dental recovery plan is "expected imminently". Labour is also making dentistry a key pre-election battleground.
FODO also recently welcomed a call to action to invest in new models of primary eye care to reduce pressure on secondary care and help prevent people from losing their vision due to long waits. 


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