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Opchat Magazine LOC News pagesLOC News, October-December 2015

Applications now open for 2016 Leadership Skills Module

Big two days and Big questions raised at NOC November Conference.

Somerset LOC provides interesting speakers in Study Day

Hunt comments on the OC/LOCSU response to the Health select committee inquiry.

LOCSU report reveals Regional momentum driving community services.


Applications now open for 2016 Leadership Skills Module

November 2015

LOCSU's Leadership Skills for Optical Professionals, is a 20-credit postgraduate module, and part of WOPEC’s MSc programme at Cardiff University.

This course is designed to enable the practicing optical professional to become an effective leader at local and national level within the optical sector through the support and development of LOCs and LEHNs, building effective strategic networks, influencing policy makers and enhancing eye health services for patients.

It provides an understanding of current leadership models and theoretical approaches and will give delegates the background knowledge and practical skills that will equip them to provide leadership in the optical sector.

The LOCSU Leadership Module is open to optometrists with a BSc in Optometry and opticians who are FBDO-qualified.

LOCSU will be funding up to 10 places on the 2016 cohort. We are particularly interested to hear from optical professionals who meet one of the following:

• LOC officers or committee members with a keen interest in leadership

• Optical professionals with a keen interest in leadership, and supporting their optical community

If you would like to be considered for a funded place please complete the application form and return to

Closing date for receipt of applications is Monday 4th January at 5pm.

Interviews will be conducted by Conference Call on Monday, 11 and Tuesday, 12 January 2016. Please indicate any preferences for dates and times in your covering letter.

Big two days and Big questions raised at NOC November Conference.

November 2015

Carrie MacEwen RCOORCOO President, Carrie MacEwen, led the way in the opening address to conference. Professor MacEwen presented an overview of the different models of eyecare in the UK suggested that England could take a lot from the experiences of the devolved Nations.

“The priority must be to ensure safe and effective care for patients, and access to the services both primary and secondary eye care must be improved.” She said.

She emphasised the importance of robust training and accreditation.

She continued, “Patients should always be able to access the appropriate professional and we must focus on hard to reach groups and reduce health inequalities.”

She insisted that ophthalmologists and optometrists must work together to improve referral patterns and monitoring.

Full report here

Do the talk as well as the walk

Katrina Venerus CEO LOCSULOCs must learn to speak the language of reform and innovation to drive the sector forward at a local level, Katrina Venerus explained to the NOC.

In the absence of national plan for eye health commissioning, LOCs must exploit local opportunities to collaborate and influence if the community sector is to move up a gear, the LOCSU Managing Director told delegates.

Deliver the session, Shaping the Future of Community Services, Venerus said: “It does genuinely feel as though stars are aligning for community optical care. It is becoming clearer that there is a genuine part of the jigsaw for us to fit into.”

“Its all about us exploiting the opportunities to engage with whatever the programme of the day is: Call to Action, 5YFV or Vanguards, we have to get the influence into that, very much at a local level as well as national.

“The frustration of having to negotiate with the minutiae of core primary care services 209 times over with CCGs is holding eye health back big time. If we can get over this, then we can get on with more exciting projects and transformational activities.”

Venerus said that evidence and evaluation were “absolute essentials” to enabling us to move commissioning on at pace.

Full report here

Appetite for New Care Models puts redesign on the menu

Patel and RichmondThe current appetite for reform and innovation though new care models offers LOCs the opportunity to put redesign of eye health services on the table.

But you don’t have to strictly be in a Vanguard site to take advantage of the opportunities for the sector, delegates were told at the NOC.

LOCSU Optical Leads, Zoe Richmond and Dharmesh Patel explained how an agile and flexible response to Commissioners looking to redesign services, reduce hospital admissions and use the community eye sector to offer patients care closer to home is a “green light” for LOCs in the current climate.

“You don’t have to be part of a wider or nationally supported programme of change to be delivering new care models,” Zoe explained.

She said that although successful Vanguards will act as blueprints for NHS going forward with national support to accelerate change, there are number of other initiatives that offer LOCs a platform for innovation and reform.

Full report here

Become detectives and track patient data, public health expert urges LOCs

Parul DesaiEye health statistics should be published centrally in the form of an area profile in a bid to push eye health up the agenda, Moorfields Ophthalmologist, Parul Desai, revealed to NOC delegates.
And she urged the community optical profession to play its part by compiling the data to improve public health.

Updating delegates on the new Portfolio of Indicators for Eye Health and Care, Desai said that LOCs could help improve the standing of statistical analysis by tracking the data all the way along the whole patient journey.

“Become detectives and make the link between data and trace it all the way to the Hospital Eye Service,” she recommended.

Desai suggested that the 12 eye-specific Indicators should be included in contract specifications by Commissioners to monitor and audit services. That would encourage scrutiny of data quality and ensure that whole pathways are considered in service specifications, not just bits of the pathway.

She said that the Indicators can be used to inform Eye Health Needs Assessments and priorities and actions. “They can link to wider health issues and inequalities, in doing so pushing eye health up the commissioning and health agenda.”

Full report here

PCSE plans standardised approach and improved customer service

Jill MatthewsConference delegates had the opportunity to hear first-hand from the new national Primary Care Support England (PCSE) team on the future plans for the administration and back office services, now provided for primary care contractors and performers by Capita on behalf of NHS England.

National Director of Engagement for PCSE, Jill Matthews, explained what PCSE were looking to achieve; what the planned changes mean for optometrists and optical practices; and the timescales involved.

The Director said that both the Optical Confederation and LOCSU had been very supportive during the procurement of the new service and continue to be so during the transformation phase, through their representatives on on the national PCSE Stakeholder Forum.

Ms Matthews, who has a background of senior roles in the NHS and had attended the NOC back in 2011 to present on the World Class Commissioning programme, said key objectives for PCSE were improved customer service, safe and reliable service delivery and significant cost savings.

PCSE will consolidate the service to operate from three offices in Clacton, Leeds and Preston, with all enquiries eventually being moved to a new national customer support centre that would be based in Leeds.

Delegates heard that the national call centre will become operational in December 2015 covering a few small areas and that enquiries from other areas will gradually be migrated until it covers the whole of England in around 12 months’ time.

Ms Matthews explained that work was ongoing to standardise and streamline some of the historical processes that Capita had identified as being variable among existing PCS teams when they began operating the national contract on 1 September 2015. She told delegates that redesigning existing GOS forms to enable bulk processing that captured key data was a priority in the ophthalmic work in the year ahead.

Further Reading

Data Repository prototype unveiled to delegates

Richard KnightA working model of LOCSU’s new national Data Repository project was unveiled to NOC delegates.

The project – which aims to provide a persuasive evidence base for commissioners on the effectiveness of community eye health services – was the opening session on the second day of the NOC, dedicated to the theme of “Data”.

LOCs were given a walk through of the data collection models and the variety of uses that the Repository will have.

Unveiling the prototype in a presentation delivered jointly with LOCSU’s Head of Policy Richard Knight, Trevor Warburton, Chair of LOCSU’s Clinical Advisory Group, told the NOC: “Increasing amounts of money are being invested by CCGs into Local Community Services.

“We want to spread those services across the country. To do so we need to produce evidence of effectiveness and value for money, especially to reluctant CCGs.

The data repository allows the data from multiple services to be amalgamated.”

The first phase of the project will see health data experts Cegedim expand the prototype into a core report database from OptoManager in the first quarter of 2016.

Further Reading

Eye health need to be ‘innovatively disruptive’

The eye health sector has a crucial role to play within New Care Models and Vanguard reforms, NHS England’s Head of Primary Care Commissioning David Geddes told the NOC.

In a speech that was reminescent of the one he made at the Westminster Forum for Health event (reported recently in PHN) Dr David Geddes reminded delegates that visual impairment was a real problem in relation to an ageing population, rising numbers of people with co-morbidities and long term conditions.

He said that better and earlier intervention of community eye health services could help get upstream of some of the problems that made older people more reliant on costly social and personal care.

And he urged the sector to make its voice heard though LEHNs, and through better evidence and outcomes data, to educate and influence Commissioners about the need for local eye health services as part of their local primary care strategy.

Geddes, a practising GP in York, told delegates: “Visual loss arising in the context of aging and co-morbidities bring opportunities for community eye health services to better support patients.

“By 2035 almost a quarter of the population will be over 65 and a growing number over 85.

Further Reading

Regional services at scale key for future.

Eye health services through regional clusters are the key to the future development of the continued progress in the community eye health sector, NOC delegates heard last week.

Delivering the Commissioning Review, LOCSU’s Head of Policy, Richard Knight, told delegates that the sector was at a crossroads with an overwhelming increase in the number of LOCs using the Company model and a tranche of services rolled over from before the 2013 NHS reforms.

“There is a growing awareness that services commissioned over a small footprint in isolation are unsustainable for LOC Companies as they do not generate enough activity and revenue on their own,” the policy chief explained.

“There are two solutions to this,” he said. “Firstly, CCGs can work together to commission the same pathway over a wide geography or, secondly, CCGs can commission multiple pathways, rather than one in isolation.

“In fact both of these things are beginning to happen,” Knight revealed.

Delegates heard that, of the 78 LOCs, 63 are covered by the LOC Company model, with 40 LOCs covered through a Regional Company. In total, more than 500 individual services have been commissioned, with over 45,000 annualised patient episodes and annualised revenue of £2.6 million.

Knight explained that “direct to practice” services outside the OptoManager platform cannot be included in service data.

Ed: The question to ask is why information on Direct to practices services cannot be pooled?

Further Reading

Lambeth and Lewisham results on MECS prove the point.

MECS “cost-effective’ research show

75% of MECS patients managed in community according to early findings of a survey by Dr Robert Harper, from Manchester Royal Eye Hospital.

Ricahrd HarperThe preliminary results from the College of Optometrists’ Enhanced Scheme Evaluation Project shows that more than a quarter of “first attendences” from GP to the HES were avoided and that patient satisfaction is extremely high with community services.

Dr Harper explained that he is part of a research team that includes experts from a number of disciplines that had been commissioned by the College to undertake a realist review of enhanced service schemes. Case Studies included the Minor Eye Conditions Service (MECS) in Lambeth and Lewisham and the Manchester
Glaucoma Referral Refinement Service (GRRS).

Researchers had been tasked with evaluating clinical safety and effectiveness and health economics as well as a stakeholder qualitative evaluation.

Harper explained that audit in Lambeth and Lewisham suggested 38% of acute ophthalmology referrals could be more appropriately managed in primary care. This is in an area where Acute Trusts were failing 18-week targets. Added to this is the issue of high costs in dealing with low severity conditions.

Further Reading.

Somerset LOC provides interesting speakers in Study Day and with no CET Grace period this year, a last chance for points.

November 2015

Somerset LOC logoSomerset LOC still has places for its Study Day at the end of the month.

Two well known experts in the field of myopia, Prof Jez Guggenheim and Dr Nicola Logan will be presenting on “Myopia and Outdoor Play”, and “Myopia Control: the evidence for Optical Intervention”.

To round off the day ClearLab will be running a discussion workshop on Clear Soft Toric fitting.

As well as offering to be an interesting afternoon, with the GOC announcing that for this cycle there will be no “grace period” for gaining CET points, this is an ideal opportunity for those in the Southwest to gain any CET points they still need.

CET approval has been secured with 5 points available for optometrists and 4 for Contact Lens Opticians. The event will be held at The Master Thatcher in Taunton.

The programme can be viewed below and full details and a booking form can be downloaded here.

Chris Hunt comments on the OC/LOCSU response to the Health select committee inquiry into primary care.

October 2105

Chris Hunt, Chairman of the Optical Confederation, said: “This is a very important inquiry. Much more needs to be done outside hospital and GP practices across the whole of primary care if the NHS is to meet demand and cope with its financial pressures.

Katrina Venerus CEO LOCSU“Under such circumstances, it makes sense for the NHS to fully engage with the community based eye health providers. We are Primary Care.

“Optometrists and opticians should be the first point of call and major providers of NHS eye health and eye care services.

“All that is needed is more effective commissioning through the LOCSU pathways and a small amount of investment in the necessary IT infrastructure.

“We can then do the rest within core skills and by working with Health Education England to upskill when necessary, for example, to develop more prescribing optometrists.

“Committee Chair, Dr Sarah Wollaston MP, has confirmed to us at this week’s Conservative party conference that the inquiry will consider the whole of primary care, not just General Practice.

“Let’s hope the health committee makes this absolutely clear to the government and NHS England.”

LOCSU report reveals Regional momentum driving community services.

October 2015

Regional LOC Companies are on the increase according to the 2014-15 LOCSU Annual Report published today.

LOCSU reveals that “regional momentum” is a growing and defined development in the commissioning landscape in the report, entitled “Leaders at every table”.

40 out of 78 LOCs are now covered by a Regional Company and a total of 63 LOCs are now promoting the single provider model to attract services. More than half of LOCs (44 out of 78) have at least one community service commissioned through a Primary Eyecare Company.

Katrina Venerus CEO LOCSUOutlining the shift, LOCSU Managing Director, Katrina Venerus, said: “We are seeing a clear trend from both Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) and LOCs attracted to the benefits of the company model.

“LOCs are drawn to its efficiency as it eases the administrative burden and allows practices of all sizes to participate in pathways.

“Similarly, hard-pressed CCGs understand the benefits of administering one contract but still offering patients a wide choice of practices for eye health services.

“The Regional Company model is a turbo-charged version of the LOC Company offering CCGs a single provider across a wider area and enabling LOCs to pool resources and combine expertise to successfully bid for services with LOCSU’s support.

“The end result is more beneficial for patients and more cost-effective for Commissioners.”

The Annual Report shows that, of the more than 500 community services in place, 159 have been established since April 2014 and the number of services delivered through an LOC Company has doubled in the past 12 months.

Case studies in the report also highlight LOC and LOCSU activities in the past year to develop new care models to show how optics can innovative to help reform eye health services.

Publishing the report, Ms Venerus said: “Whether it is in representing the sector and influencing decision makers at a national and strategic level, helping LOCs attract services through our network of Optical Leads, helping LOCs develop and flourish through learning and development and putting leaders at ever table, LOCSU is certainly more than the sum of its parts; this year’s Annual Report reflects that.”

Also published today, LOCSU has completed the first major update to the Atlas of Optical Variation.

For the first time, the Atlas now shows details of services delivered by LOC Companies as well as those commissioned via individual contracts.

The map view shows services by pathway type, with geographic groupings by NHS regional team that can be broken down to LOC or CCG level.

Commenting on the updated Atlas, Venerus said: “The reality is community eye services are still a postcode lottery due to the absence of national standardised commissioning.

“The updated Atlas of Variation offers a snapshot of the current provision and gaps around the country.

“It will be useful for LOCs, for Commissioners and for the public to be able to see where services exist and how they are provided.”

The live Atlas can be found on the LOCSU website at:


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