Primary Health Net
Visit our Public Information Site
Go to my LOC site
eros events sos

Opchat Magazine LOC News pagesLOC News, July to September 2016

LOCSU announce facilitated online induction training.

Payment service rescue plan must deliver, insist optical leaders.

Progress, continuity and change at the top at LOCSU.

Health minister confirms for NOC.

Optical sector 'still not satisfied' following response from NHS chief.

Additional AOP resource introduced to help resolve Capita late payment issues.

New primary eye care framework is an obvious choice for CCGS.

LOCSU announce facilitated online induction training.

September 2016

Starting on 3 October 2016, LOCSU is offering facilitated induction training for LOCs, using our online platform Noddlepod.

This approach will include the opportunity to participate in online group discussions with other new members and some experienced LOC officers, group webinars focused on specific LOC topics and activities designed to support delegates to become effective LOC members quickly. We also welcome experienced LOC members who would like to refresh their knowledge.

The planned dates are:

Orientation Week, Monday 3 October to Sunday 9 October.

Week 1 Monday 10 October to Sunday 16 October: What is an LOC?

Week 2 Monday 17 October to Sunday 23 October: LOC functions and governance (includes a conference call with Katrina Venerus on Tuesday 18 October at 6pm).

Week 3 Monday 24 October to Sunday 30 October: Communications.

What is the commitment?

We anticipate that delegates will need to allocate 2-3 hours per week during the course to complete the reading and activities.

In order to register for this programme delegates need to email LOCSU’s Office Manager

Payment service rescue plan must deliver, insist optical leaders

September 2016

Optical sector leaders have made it clear to NHS England and Capita that the latest plan to turn around the ophthalmic payments service must not fail.

Leaders demanded crunch talks to highlight the acute problems the chaos was causing the sector and to hear NHS England’s plans for the improvement of the Primary Care Support England (PCSE) service, delivered by Capita.

In a letter to the sector following urgent discussions on 30 August, NHS England apologised for the failures in the services. Karen Wheeler, the NHS England director responsible for overseeing the contract, provided assurances that Capita were being held to account for their unacceptable service levels and confirmed that financial penalties had been applied.

She confirmed that she has also been working with Capita at CEO level to ensure there is now better focus and additional resources going into driving recovery across PCSE.

The NHS England director said she expects Capita’s operational improvement plan to stabilize the ophthalmic payments service by the end of October and for all residual issues to be resolved by the end of the year.

Speaking on behalf of the optical sector, Katrina Venerus said: “We welcome the honesty from NHS England to accept there have been unacceptable service failures and to apologise for the difficulties and pressures these have added to optical contractors and professionals in England.

“We have seen Capita’s plans and we will maintain week-by-week scrutiny to verify improvements are in line with the recovery plan. We will continue to keep the sector informed as usual via LOCSU Hot Briefs.”

The optical sector has also demanded immediate action to address current delays in processing performer list applications, especially for newly-qualified optometrists, which has had an unacceptable impact on the profession.

Venerus added “It is essential that the plans to get the ophthalmic payments service and performer list service are fully implemented as soon as possible and we will continue to review progress with PCSE and NHS England on a weekly basis until the service has recovered.”

Follow the link to read the full text of the letter on the NHS website:

Progress, continuity and change at the top at LOCSU.

September 2016

LOCSU’s board has announced important changes to the organisation following its quarterly meeting today.

The Board heard that positive early progress had been made towards delivering the targets in the Breakthrough Strategy following the embedding of the expanded commissioning team.

After four years leading LOCSU, Managing Director, Katrina Venerus, is to take up a new part-time role as Clinical Director. This change will allow her to fulfill her long-held ambition to complete an MSc in Healthcare Leadership as part of her professional development.

The LOCSU Board were very keen not to lose Katrina’s skills and experience and are pleased to have been able to agree with her that she will remain in a new three-day per week post.

LOCSU is today announcing plans to recruit a new Chief Officer to continue to drive through the ambitious targets in the Breakthrough Strategy to completion and into the next stages.

LOCSU Chairman, Alan Tinger, said: “I am delighted that Katrina will continue to be involved at the heart of LOCSU’s work in a senior role as its Clinical Director.

As previously, she will continue to provide expert advice, guidance and leadership for key projects and sector-wide policy development and will continue to represent LOCSU externally and with partners including the Clinical Council for Eye Health Commissioning.

“I am very proud that LOCSU has gone from strength to strength under Katrina’s stewardship and that she is now recognised as a leader of and within the sector." Said Mr Tinger and "In the meantime, no-one should notice any changes in LOCSU’s day-to-day support and service as Katrina will remain in her current role until the recruitment has been completed."

Health minister confirms for NOC.

September 2016

PRIMARY Care minister, David Mowat has confirmed that he will attend this year’s National Optical Conference.

David Mowatt

In addition to the ministerial address and questions, there is a jam-packed programme of headline speakers, strategic updates and the latest research findings.

The 2016 conference will include a progress report on the Breakthrough Strategy led by Richard Whittington, LOCSU’s new Assistant Director who joined the expanded commissioning team and brings a wealth of experience from his former role as an NHS Commissioner.

Engaging with New Care Models, such as the Vanguards and health devolution in Manchester forms another segment of the conference following a presentation on Sustainable Transformation Plans (STPs) that have leapt to the top of the NHS reform agenda.

With many LOCs sending new officers as first-time delegates to the NOC, Katrina Venerus said: “Again, the NOC offers the latest in policy and research and unrivalled networking opportunities as well as the place to pick up practical skills through the workshop sessions.

“We have published the programme as early as possible so that LOCs can choose delegates at their September meetings.”

Each LOC receives one free place and there will be “buddy” system to match first-time attendees with experienced delegates.

Follow the relevant link for the full programme and for delegate bookings.

Optical sector 'still not satisfied' following response from NHS chief.

August 2016

LOCSU and the Optical Confederation have demanded to meet NHS England after an exchange of correspondence following continuing problems with the Primary Care Support England service provided by Capita.

Speaking on behalf of the optical sector, Katrina Venerus said: "The response from NHS England is very disappointing. We note that NHS England says that they are now monitoring the PCSE service more closely and that further steps are being taken to improve this service. However, we are still not satisfied that enough is being done to ensure that ophthalmic contractors receive accurate payments on time and that payment issues that have arisen are resolved in a timely manner.

“We have requested a meeting with the NHS England responsible director to seek further assurances. In the meantime, we will continue to press Capita’s operations team to ensure that current issues are resolved."

Readers can review the letter sent from NHS England in response to the OC's concerns.

Dear Henrietta, Sir Anthony, David and Katrina,


I am sorry you continue to have cause to raise concerns about the PCSE service, but thank you for raising them and for the considerable time you have spent working with NHS England and Capita to explain, understand and help address the issues with service performance. I am replying on behalf of Simon Stevens who is currently on leave, but I can assure you that he is fully aware and committed to holding Capita to account and ensuring they rapidly address the current service issues.

I am fully aware of the difficulties that you raise in your letter regarding levels of customer service and delayed payments for some ophthalmic contractors and recognise the frustration that, despite the introduction of a recovery plan agreed with Capita in May, there have continued to be issues with service performance.

We have been working very closely with Capita to ensure that the right actions are being taken both to resolve the issues as they affect individual ophthalmic contractors and the underlying problems which have caused them.

At an early stage we asked Capita to take immediate steps to address the initial problems with payments processing, including undertaking a full audit to reconcile payments and confirm the nature of any errors. This audit has now concluded and Capita report that all queries raised up to the end of May have now been investigated and addressed, with good progress on also resolving those which arose subsequently.

We continue to closely monitor performance and to press for actions to prevent and tackle emerging issues. We appreciate your continued willingness to work with us and Capita to identify and support process improvements.

For example, the introduction of personalised header forms for contractors from May onwards which is helping the reconciliation of payments.

At the end of June Capita reported delays to the onward distribution of GOS forms redirected from closed PCSE offices, which led to claims being omitted for some contractors. They have now confirmed that all contractors who raised queries in June or July have been contacted to resolve their queries and rectify any payment errors as quickly as possible.

It is very disappointing that this situation arose and we have discussed with Capita specific actions to prevent reoccurrence, including improved mail handling processes at both PCSE and at their mail facility, and communications to contractors.

It is essential that Capita deliver the necessary service improvements for ophthalmic contractors and we continue to review performance and hold Capita to account for the impact of agreed actions, through weekly and monthly performance and contract management reviews. Recently Capita have taken additional actions to improve their processes, including new process standards to facilitate better work flow management, refresher training for all ophthalmic payments processing staff during July, and additional process quality checks in the payment run process to help prevent errors.

My team will continue to engage with you and Capita to ensure these revised processes deliver a positive impact for ophthalmic contractors.

Yours sincerely
Karen Wheeler National Director: Transformation and Corporate Operations

Additional AOP resource introduced to help resolve Capita late payment issues.

August 2016

The Association of Optometrists (AOP) has appointed a dedicated resource to help resolve ophthalmic payment issues that some contractors are facing with Capita.

Speaking of the new resource, Henrietta Alderman, AOP Chief Executive said: “For some time the AOP and other bodies have been working to resolve the issues with Capita and we felt that progress was being made. Unfortunately, we now have evidence from Capita to show that the latest payment run has caused a spike in the number of issues, and calls into the AOP and LOCSU support that.

We take our members’ concerns very seriously, and we believe that the introduction of a dedicated, temporary person to help resolve issues on behalf of contractors is needed. We’d like to acknowledge all the work that LOCSU, in particular, has done to resolve payment issues so far, and the new AOP resource will also work closely with LOCSU. This is an interim solution and we will continue to press Capita and NHS England for a more permanent resolution. ”

The resource is available to all contractors, regardless of AOP membership.

Contractors should have the following information to hand when they contact the AOP:
• Payments outstanding
• Practice area
• Where claims are sent to
• Practice details
• Practice contact (name, phone and email)
• Perceived risk to business – high, medium, low

Queries will be prioritised based on greatest need.

Mr John Hall will start at the AOP from Tuesday 2 August and can be contacted on or 020 7549 2004.

Mr Hall can also be contacted for issues relating to applications to the ophthalmic performers list and GOS forms/supply portal.

New primary eye care framework is an obvious choice for CCGS.

July 2016

LOCSU has welcomed the publication of the new Primary Eye Care Framework for eye health services.

The new, expanded Commissioning Team is urging CCGs to play their part in helping to reduce avoidable sight loss by implementing the whole system eye care pathways proposed in the framework published this month by the Clinical Council for Eye Health Commissioning.

CCGs will minimize duplication, streamline processes and gain better outcomes for patients, the framework predicts.

Richard Whittington“Given the current capacity issues in both the Hospital Eye Service and general practice, it is an obvious choice for CCGs,” said LOCSU’s new Assistant Director, Commissioning, Richard Whittington.

“For services to have the maximum impact and cost-effectiveness, CCGs need to work together at a population level and across CCG and care tier boundaries if we truly want an integrated service.
Current pressures require a radical response and the introduction of a Minor Eye Conditions Service (MECS) and more routine step-down care will make a significant difference to demand and capacity.

“LOCSU, which has developed a set of accredited national pathways referred to in the Framework, believes that outcomes for patients will improve if there is a co-ordinated and multi-professional approach to tackle both urgent and routine activity.

“We know that high-street optical practices can help streamline services by being a first port of call. This will lead to earlier detection of eye problems, quicker and easier access to the appropriate service and professional and better use of hard-pressed CCG budgets.

“The current piecemeal approach isn’t working. LOCSU congratulates the Clinical Council for Eye Health Commissioning for the timely and relevant publication of this much needed document and we urge all CCGs to fully implement its recommendations.”

A link to the report, Primary Eye Care Framework for First Contact, can be found on the LOCSU website, here:

Primary Health Net