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09 February 2024

FODO member update - 9 February

This week:

OFNC - first meeting with new primary care minister

OFNC recently met the health minister Andrea Leadsom to discuss the need for sustainable funding for GOS, IT connectivity and the benefits of better access to enhanced primary eye care services. 

Andrea Leadsom said: "I was delighted to meet with the OFNC to discuss the essential role played by NHS sight testing in the prevention of avoidable sight loss, the current challenges facing eye care services and how an expanded role for the primary eye care workforce could help alleviate ophthalmology pressures."

Read the entire OFNC statement 

Crisis in primary care

Last week, we reported that primary care continues to suffer real-term cuts. This week, news from the BMA and British Dental Association (BDA) adds to the growing crisis in primary care in England.
GPs announced they had been offered a 1.9% baseline uplift. The BMA's GP England committee (GPC England) said this is "nowhere near what is needed to prevent practices from reducing services or closing down altogether".
Dr Katie Bramall-Stainer, chair of GPC England, said costs had risen because of "soaring inflation," with more than 1,000 practices closing since 2015, and "with them the exodus of thousands more GPs from NHS roles". The BMA has called for a review of the 1.9% pay offer.

Meanwhile, the BDA published Victorian dentistry in 21st Century Britain. It said that although a recovery plan was likely to be published soon by NHS England, there was "little chance it would deliver the break from a failed past we need". When the plan launched on 7 February, it lacked a quote from the BDA.

Harjit Sandhu, managing director at FODO, said: "Despite a consensus among health policy experts that the NHS must focus more on primary care, the whole of primary care is experiencing real and sustained cuts in funding. Without rebalancing investment in all the primary care professions, including eye care and audiology, the NHS will not be sustainable as we will miss opportunities to keep people well." 

Opportunity - GOC Council Associate

The GOC has invited fully qualified registrants to apply for its third cohort of Council associates. The opportunity includes two positions for fully qualified registrants. At least one of them must be a dispensing optician. If you are interested in learning about the GOC's work and being on a board, discover more and apply before midnight on 3 March 2024. 

Northern Ireland GOS data

Family Practitioner Services published GOS data for 2022/23 this week. It includes the following data highlights:

  • The sector provided 446,000 sight tests, a 2% increase on the previous year
  • It issued 178,000 vouchers to help people access essential vision correction
  • 45,400 patients benefited from accessing the primary eyecare assessment and referral service
  • More than 1,300 patients accessed a repeat IOP measures service, and over 400 benefited from access to the glaucoma and ocular hypertension enhanced case-finding service
  • 95% of the population live within 5 miles of an optical practice
  • 635 optometrists and 5 OMPs delivered this care to people close to home across 270 practices and through home visits
  • Total expenditure on GOS was £23.6m.

Read more

Apprenticeship consultation

The Orthoptist Trailblazer Group has opened a consultation on a draft apprenticeship standard.

The British and Irish Orthoptics Society and employers have said they support the standard as it provides a new route to register as an orthoptist with the Health and Care Professions Council.

The consultation will close on 29 February 2024. Read more

Wales - workplace recycling is changing

Members in Wales are reminded that from 6 April 2024, it will become law for businesses to sort their waste for recycling. The law will also apply to primary care settings. Read more

Other sector news

Health policy news

NHS waiting list falls for third month in a row
NHS England says the waiting list fell in December for the third month. There were 7.6m incomplete pathways, 615,120 of which were for ophthalmology. Ophthalmology now has a median waiting time of 12.5 weeks compared to 15 weeks on average across all specialities.
Scotland's health and social care secretary resigns
Michael Matheson, cabinet secretary for NHS recovery, health and social care, has resigned.

Northern Ireland health minister prioritises pay talks

The new health minister, Robin Swann, has spoken of his honour at returning to the post. He said he wants to see "pay negotiations being initiated without delay." Read more.
NHS England's position on physician associates
The NHS has reiterated its support for physician associates and repeated that they are "not a substitute for doctors" but are trained to work as part of an MDT. NHS England also said: "PAs must always work within a defined scope of competence; they are not independent medical practitioners and must be supervised appropriately by doctors."   


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