FODO has welcomed the NHS long term plan (published 7 January 2019). It does not directly impact on GOS (with the possible exception of service to care homes) and there is much that community optics, ophthalmology and hearing services can get behind:
- reforming outpatients and moving care out of hospitals into primary and community care
- reemphasis on prevention and early intervention
- preservation of patient choice
- establishment of primary care networks of GPs which LOCs can work with and within
- commitment to roll out IT standards and make Electronic Health Records accessible to patients and all clinicians involved in NHS care which must imply IT connectivity for optical practices
- inter-disciplinary ‘credentialing’ of training programmes to enable professionals to develop more widely outside their core disciplines
- making 2019-20 a transitional year rather than launching headlong into change.
However there are also some potential risks:
- the (all but) abolition of CCGs and genuine commissioning
- the emergence of mega, Trust-led, prime contractor models of care – Integrated Care Systems (ICSs) to be rolled out in all locations by April 2021
- weakened local levers to challenge policies which might jeopardise patient care
- risk that all additional primary care funding will flow to GPs
- fixed NHS budget for 5 years (no ‘top ups’) with uncertainty about training budgets, capital investment and social care funding.
FODO CEO David Hewlett said: “All national plans bring opportunities as well as risks and this one is no different. We will certainly have our work cut out to ensure that the services our members offer are not crushed beneath the juggernaut of reform and that the public value we deliver is recognised especially in integrated care systems (ICSs) and primary care networks. We will also keep working to move eye health and hearing up the NHS and public health agendas and to ensure that optical, hearing and ophthalmology practices can continue to flourish to meet patient and public need.”