The Optometric Fees Negotiating Committee (OFNC) has been in negotiations with NHS England to secure funding to provide IT connectivity between optical practices in England and the rest of the NHS. It had been hoped that this could come from an underspend elsewhere in primary care which has been widely reported in the media. Unfortunately at the last minute this proved not to be possible.
Trevor Warburton, OFNC Chair, said: “It is extremely disappointing that we have not been able to secure funding to connect optical practices with the NHS this year. However, NHS England do now seem to accept that investment in this area is needed, which is progress, and have committed to continue working with us on this in 2018-19, although no budget has yet been allocated. It is essential that NHS England do now work with us to deliver on this long overdue modernisation.”
Ann Blackmore, OFNC Secretary added: “NHS England have confirmed that the requirement for all primary care referrals to be electronic from October will not apply to optical practices. Nevertheless, however we look at it, this change is likely to result in more work for some practices and GPs which could have been avoided Looking ahead our shared aim with NHS England must be to develop a simple and straightforward system of IT connectivity as soon as possible and we will continue to press NHS England hard on this.