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Opchat Magazine Professional Matters PagesProfessional Matters News, January to March 2018


For Ophthalmology Section Page Click Here.

Voting opens for 2018 AOP Council
New College President and Council members welcomed at AGM
Opchat News send out Big Blue Light Survey to 4300+ Opticians
AOP launches guide for healthy, low-stress optical practices
PSCE Payments continue to be slow in continued bad weather, the latest report
Annual General Ophthalmic Services - workforce statistics released this week
Delayed GOS payments due to severe weather this time.
GOC erases South Ayrshire-based dispensing optician.
FODO welcomes Government commitment to tackle “scourge” of late payments.
False DOs claim on treating Autism gets him struck off.
News from the General Optical Council meeting held on 28 February 2018.
Implementing new data security and protection requirements – New OC and LOCSU guidance
OFNC seeks NHS eReferral grant for optical practices.
GOC appoints doctors to advisory committees RCOphth Commissioning Guide for Adult Cataract Surgery - Revised
GOC to discuss proposed consultation on business standards at next meeting.
Changes to GOC annual registration renewal process
College of Optometrists conducts second report on Scheme for Registration.
Capita and Primary Care England - National Audit Office inquiry, FODO staff make inquiry visit.
AOP opens nominations for 15 Council positions.
GOC Chair calls for more collaboration between system leaders in future of eye and vision services.
AOP seeks volunteers for vital Peer Support Line.
GOC suspends Nottingham-based optometrist.
So, could the NHS do with an extra £119 million pounds?
Capita staff were on the NHS PCSE stand to promote “Future service developments for ophthalmic payments”.
Optical Confederation calls on NHS England to take urgent action to address Capita failures.
The 2018 Winner: Sinead McGurk Opticians from N Ireland. AOP Practice of the Year
Child vision screening resources updated from October 2017 this January.
College of Optometrists announces Council election results.
LOCSU highlights deadlines for Leadership Skills Module.
AOP unveils 2018 CET programme.
GOC announces new appointments to its Companies and Investigation committees.
GOC suspends West Midlands-based dispensing optician.
World Council of Optometry and American Academy of Optometry announce Joint Education Meeting in 2019

Voting opens for 2018 AOP Council

March 2018

Voting for the Association of Optometrists (AOP) 2018 Council elections will open on Tuesday 3 April with members being invited to vote across five contested geographical constituencies.

Encouraging AOP members to take part, AOP Chief Executive, Henrietta Alderman, said: “Councillors play an essential role at the AOP, helping us to develop policies and benefits that reflect the needs of members. The landscape of optics is changing, and this year we’ll be tackling key issues, including education and regulation of the profession. If your constituency is being contested, please do get involved and cast your vote.”

Angela Henderson, returning Councillor for North East England, highlighted the role Councillors play in providing a cross-section of views at the AOP, explaining: “Councillors are essential in bringing the thoughts, ideas and opinions of their local members to the attention of the AOP. Find out who your candidates are, take time to read their pledges and make the right choice for you and your area.” Deepali Modha, returning Councillor for East of England, agreed, adding: “Together, we can help shape the future of optometry, and protect our profession.”

Geographical positions being contested in this year’s election are, Scotland, South East England, South West England, West Midlands and Yorkshire and the Humber. Members in these areas will be sent an email from the AOP’s election partners, Mi-Voice, on Tuesday 3 April, containing a unique voting link.

The successful candidates will join uncontested and returning geographical representatives, along with designated representatives, who reflect practitioners from across the profession, to form the AOP’s Council. Results for contested and designated positions will be announced in the week beginning 30 April.

Voting closes on 23 April. For more information on the 2018 AOP Council elections, along with candidate details, visit the Association’s election pages.

New College President and Council members welcomed at AGM

March 2018

College New PresidentThe College of Optometrists welcomed a new President and five new Council members at its AGM, held during the College’s clinical conference, Optometry Tomorrow 2018, in Birmingham on 19 March.

The incoming College President is Board member, Professor Edward Mallen MCOptom, Head of the School of Optometry and Vision Science, and Professor of Physiological Optics at the University of Bradford.

Professor Mallen said; “I am delighted to be elected as the new President of the College. I am proud of our profession, and look forward to continuing the great work of our Immediate Past President, Dr Mary-Ann Sherratt. Optometrists are well-placed to improve the eye health of the nation. We are at a time of great opportunity right now, and I’m excited by the developments that could lie ahead. I would like to welcome our new Council members and would also like to take this opportunity to acknowledge and thank our very committed Council and Board members standing down after many years of service to the College, particularly Dr Cindy Tromans and Dr David Parkins, who have both served 14 years each.”

The five new Council members are Prab Boparai MCOptom (West Midlands), Lorcan Butler MCOptom and Lisa O Donoghue MCOptom (Northern Ireland), Dr Irene Ctori MCOptom (London) and Deepali Modha MCOptom, who will represent College members across the Eastern region.

Speaking about her election to Council, Deepali Modha MCOptom said; “I am delighted to have been given this opportunity to represent fellow optometrists working in independent, multiple and hospital practices across the Eastern region, and am looking forward to sharing their feedback, views and ideas with the College. I am also looking forward to playing an active role in shaping the future of the College and its activities.”

Following the election in January, six members retain their seats on College Council; Johnathan Waugh MCOptom (Scotland), Colin Davidson FCOptom (South East), Stephanie Campbell MCOptom (South West), Professor Leon Davies FCOptom (West Midlands), Dr Joy Myint FCOptom (London) and Dr Parth Shah MCOptom (re-elected unopposed, Eastern).

Five members of Council stepped down at the AGM and were acknowledged for their service and commitment to the College; Dr Parminder Chohan MCOptom (Eastern), Dr Sara McCullough MCOptom (Northern Ireland), Prof Kathryn Saunders MCOptom (Northern Ireland), Francesca Marchetti MCOptom (West Midlands), Dr David Parkins FCOptom (London). Dr Cindy Tromans MCOptom stepped down following service on both the College Council and Board.

Members can contact their regional Council member via the College website at:

Several other appointments were also announced at the AGM; Colin Davidson FCOptom was elected as Vice President, Dr Aleksandra Mankowska MCOptom was elected as Treasurer, Dr Mary-Ann Sherratt was appointed as Chair of the Board, Professor Leon Davies FCOptom and Dr. Parth Shah MCOptom were elected as Trustees and Kiki Soteri was re-elected as Chair of the Education & Standards Committee.

Opchat News send out Big Blue Light Survey to 4300+ Opticians

March 2018


Opchat Logo

The Big Blue Light Survey

Blue Light, could have detrimental effects on the eye or the body or is it harmless, where do you stand?

"Blue Light


The issue of blue light protection is always topical. There will be a lively debate on this topic at Optrafair 2018 on Saturday 14 April, at 1230, in the CET Theatre, involving Professor John Marshall, Professor James Wolffsohn and other academics and experts. It is titled “What do we know about blue light”, and we recommend you register and attend.

There are plenty of individual studies and research viewpoints concluding that blue light presents risks, but understanding and acceptance of its effects remains debatable in the UK, perhaps even contentious.

Opchat News will be featuring this topic in the next month comparing how in the UK the profession and industry treat the risks of Blue Light differently from the USA and the rest of Europe in a clinical briefing paper.

In the run up to this Optrafair debate, Primary Health Net, through Opchat News, would like to survey the experiences of optometrists, dispensing opticians and those involved in this sector, like yourself, and your attitudes to blue light as a risk factor, with the knowledge available to you today.

As a person involved in giving professional advice to patients or as an academic advising the profession, do you:

• Actively discuss blue light and protective measures

• Remain sceptical that risk exists or that it is unproven and refrain from discussing the topic with your patients

Please take our survey now. The information received will be invaluable to measure current thinking.

Responses received by April 9 2018 will be entered into a draw to win £100 of John Lewis vouchers. The findings will be shared in future news stories of Opchat News published by

Primary Health Net.

Thank you for taking part

Please Click here to begin survey.

AOP launches guide for healthy, low-stress optical practices

March 2018

The Association of Optometrists (AOP), in collaboration with optical employers, has produced a best-practice guide aimed at helping both employers and employees build and maintain healthy workplaces.

The guide, Creating healthy, low-stress optical practices, has been developed in response to findings from the AOP’s 2017 health and wellbeing survey in which several factors were uncovered as contributing to workplace stress for optometrists. Elements such as working under time and commercial pressures, an increasingly complex workload, and a fear of litigation were all highlighted.

Setting out five key factors which are proven to impact job satisfaction and levels of stress, the guide is designed as a tool to aid conversations between colleagues and help create healthier workplace environments. It is suitable for all optometrists and those who manage optometrists.

Chief Executive of the AOP, Henrietta Alderman, said: “A healthy work environment is vital for any business and at the AOP we’ve been working on a series of projects that support our members to deliver wellbeing initiatives in practice. This latest guide forms part of that body of work which is centred on creating stronger teams and robust optical practices that enable optometrists to thrive.”

Ms Alderman added: “We’ve been working with a number of employers to produce the guide, but would like to express our particular thanks to Boots Opticians, Specsavers and Vision Express. We have worked closely with these three largest employers to develop a publication that is relevant and can be actively promoted to all optometrists and managers.”

Providing useful checklists, spaces to write notes and best practice examples, the guide has been designed to apply to all practice types. As an accompaniment, a letter has also been developed for optometrists to pass on to their managers or practice mangers, along with a copy of the guide, as a conversation aid.

The guide has been sent to all UK AOP members in the April edition of Optometry Today and will be distributed through Boots Opticians, Specsavers and Vision Express directly to their employees. The guide is also available, for members and non-members, to download from the AOP website here.

PSCE Payments continue to be slow in continued bad weather, the latest report

March 2018

Despite efforts to get the situation resolved as quickly as possible, further delays to some areas have been announced this week as a result of further snow over the weekend, and as a result, some of the information provided in last week’s news briefing has now changed.

PCSE has now advised us that payments for Wirral 5NK, Sefton 5NJ, Calderdale 5J6 and Kirklees 5N2 will be delayed further, and are now expected to reach contractors’ bank accounts on 26/03. Also, Middlesbrough 5KM, Hartlepool 5D9, Stockton on Tees 5E1 and Redcar & Cleveland 5QR have been added to the areas that will fall under the special payments process below.

Special payments process

As a result of sector pressure, NHS England’s Central Finance Team have agreed to implement a special process to ensure that all contractors in the affected areas receive a payment before the last working day in March – areas affected are listed below.

Contractors in these areas will receive an ad-hoc payment on the 26/03 or 27/03 to the same value as their February 2018 GOS payment. This ad-hoc payment will be balanced against the contractor’s March 2018 GOS payment once it has been processed by PCSE.

Contractors will receive a remittance notice from NHS SBS for the ad-hoc payment paid by NHS England but will not receive a GOS statement until their claims have been fully processed by PCSE.

A further remittance notice will then be issued by NHS SBS showing the balance paid to the contractor on the revised payment date where the March payment value is greater than the ad-hoc payment. If the March payment is less than the ad-hoc payment, then the overpayment will be deducted from the April GOS payment.

The revised payment date will be confirmed to contractors by PCSE once processing for their area has been completed. The latest payment date is expected to be 09/04/18. (Please note: It is important that contractors read the information on the two remittance notices received from SBS in conjunction with their March GOS statement and check that it is correct).

Areas to receive ad-hoc payment in March 2018:

Barnet 5A9; Brent 5K5; Camden 5K7; Chelsea & Kensington 5LA; Croydon 5K9; Devon 5QQ; Ealing 5HX; Enfield 5C1; Gloucester 5QH; Halton & St Helens 5NM; Hammersmith & Fulham 5H1; Haringey 5C9; Harrow 5K6; Hartlepool 5D9; Hillingdon 5HY; Hounslow 5AT; Islington 5K8; Kingston 5A5; Knowsley 5J4; Leicester City 5PC; Leicester County 5PA; Liverpool 5NL; Merton & Sutton 5M7; Middlesbrough 5KM; North Staffs 5PH; Northants 5PD; Plymouth 5F1; Redcar & Cleveland 5QR; Richmond & Twick'ham 5M6; South Staffs 5PK; Stockton on Tees 5E1; Stoke 5PJ; Surrey 5P5; Swindon 5K3; Swindon 5K3; Torbay TAL Wandsworth 5LG; Westminster 5LC; Wiltshire 5QK; and Wiltshire 5QK.

Contractors in the affected areas should have received an email from their PCSE Regional Liaison Manager (RLM). Any contractors for whom the delayed payment will cause cash flow problems or financial hardship should contact their RLM to request an emergency payment.

Annual General Ophthalmic Services - workforce statistics released this week

March 2018

The Government released the annual General Ophthalmic Services workforce statistics earlier this week. This shows the number of ophthalmic practitioners (Optometrists and Ophthalmic Medical Practitioners) who were authorised, by the relevant area team and organisation in England and Local Health Boards (LHBs) in Wales, to carry out NHS funded sight tests.

As of 31 December 2017, In England there were 13,141 ophthalmic practitioners, 45.6 per cent (5,990) were male and 54.4 per cent (7,151) were female. By comparison, the 2007 breakdown was 54.1 per cent male and 45.9 per cent female practitioners.

In Wales there were 841 ophthalmic practitioners, 46.0 per cent (387) were male and 54.0 per cent (454) were female. The 2007 breakdown was 56.1 per cent male and 43.9 per cent female practitioners.

To view the statistics, click here.

Delayed GOS payments due to severe weather this time.

March 2018

PCSE have confirmed that there has been a delay in processing some GOS payments due to the recent adverse weather conditions. This is clearly unacceptable and FODO as part of the Optical Confederation, has been pressing for urgent resolution through NHS England. As a result, the below recovery schedule has been agreed. Payments for the areas listed have already been processed and the extent of the delays have been confirmed as being between 1-3 working days, depending on the area (Regional liaison managers indicated for each):

1-day delay (payment cleared by 16 March 2018)
Birmingham East & North 5PG; Birmingham Heartlands 5MX; Birmingham South 5M1; Solihull 5QW -
Cambridge 5PP; Gt Yarmouth and Waveney 5PR; Norfolk 5PQ; Peterborough 5PN; Suffolk 5PT -

2-day delay (payment cleared by Thursday 22 March 2018)
Wirral 5NK; Sefton 5NJ -

3-day delay (payment cleared by Tuesday 20 March 2018)
Hampshire 5QC; Portsmouth 5FE; Southampton 5L1; Isle of Wight 5QT -
Nottingham County 5N8; Nottingham City 5EM; Bassetlaw 5ET; Derby County 5N6; Derby City 5N7 -

3-day delay (payment cleared by Wednesday 21 March 2018)
West Sussex 5P6 -
Dorset 5QM; Bournemouth and Poole 5QN -
Bexley TAK; Greenwich 5A8 -

3-day delay (payment cleared by Thursday 22 March 2018)
West Kent 5P9; East & Coastal Kent 5QA; Medway 5L3 -
East Berkshire 5QG; West Berkshire 5QF; Oxford 5QE -
City & Hackney 5C3; Tower Hamlets 5C4; Newham 5C5 -

3-day delay (payment cleared by Friday 23 March)
Calderdale 5J6; Kirklees 5N2; Middlesborough 5KM; Hartlepool 5D9; Stockton on Tees 5E1; Redcar & Cleveland 5QR -

Discussions are taking place with NHS England and PCSE to ensure everything possible is being done to minimise the delays for the remainder of the March payments and further information will be available next week once the remaining details are put in place.

Contractors in the affected areas should receive an email from their PCSE Regional Liaison Manager (RLM). Any contractors for whom the delayed payment will cause cash flow problems or financial hardship should contact their RLM to request an emergency payment.

GOC erases South Ayrshire-based dispensing optician.

March 2018

The General Optical Council (GOC), the UK regulator for optometrists and dispensing opticians, has decided to erase Ian Jordan, a dispensing optician based in South Ayrshire, from its register. He will now be unable to practise as a dispensing optician in the UK.

A GOC Fitness to Practise Committee found his fitness to practise impaired by reason of misconduct, relating to factors including failing to have his findings reviewed by an optometrist, failing to obtain informed consent from patients, failing to maintain adequate records, failing to make appropriate referrals and acting outside the scope of his practice.
In making the decision, the committee, chaired by Pamela Ormerod, said:
“The Committee felt that erasure was the only course of action that would be sufficient to protect patients from a practitioner who had shown such disregard for his professional colleagues, had such inflated and unwarranted confidence in his own professional abilities as a dispensing optician without appropriate reference to other professionals and the accompanying disregard for the scope of his practice and the potential risks to patients.

“There had been repeated and persistent departures from professional standards, there had been potential for harm to patients as a result of deliberate conduct which though well-intended had been in defiance of professional limitations as a dispensing optician.

“The committee also felt there had been a series of abuses of patients’ trust and their rights to be informed and involved in their treatments. There was a lack of insight and a real risk of repetition of the registrant’s misconduct. Erasure was seen as the only way to ensure public protection and maintain confidence in the profession.”
GOC Chief Executive and Registrar Vicky McDermott added:

“We note that a petition has called for us to reinstate Mr Jordan. Such an option is not open to the Council but the Rules provide for an appeal against the decision by Mr Jordan if he wishes. We have a robust and fair investigation process where both sides are able to present the independent committee with evidence to support their case. The committee made its decision after consideration of all the evidence presented to it.

We have nothing further to add to the detailed reasoning already published by the committee.”Click here for eralier PHN story.

Mr Jordan has until 3 April 2018 to appeal his erasure, during which time he is suspended from the register under an immediate suspension order.

FODO welcomes Government commitment to tackle “scourge” of late payments.

March 2018

Responding to this afternoon’s Spring Statement by Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond, Federation of (Ophthalmic and Dispensing) Opticians (FODO) Chief Executive David Hewlett, said:

“Growth in the economy is always welcome news for health care. We also welcome the Chancellor’s promise to eliminate the ‘scourge’ of late payments. Let us hope this also applies to the NHS, where the catastrophic failure by NHS England and Capita to deliver NHS optical payments has had serious consequences for our members and needs to be addressed by the Government with the utmost urgency.”

In January earlier this year, FODO co-signed an Optical Confederation letter to NHS England, calling for urgent action to address these failings to fulfil contractual obligations. For more information, click here.

David Hewlett added: “Other changes announced in the Spring Statement, including the frequency of business rate valuations and the funding of apprenticeships for small businesses, will also affect FODO members. We will be studying these proposals closely and advising our members accordingly later in the week.”

False DOs claim on treating Autism gets him struck off.

March 2018

An optician who claims to be able to treat the vision of people with autism and brain injuries using coloured filters has been struck off.

Ian Jordan a Dispensing Optician practising in Ayr and who is said to have seen thousands of patients from across the UK and abroad claiming that he has been able to transform the lives of patients with a range of visual problems by using tinted lenses has been struck from the register by the GOC.

The news comes from a press story this week but has not been verified yet by the GOC to Opchat News.

As is well known experts say there is evidence that tinted lenses can help treat specific problems including migraines and reading difficulties. However, those who claim the lenses can do more are bringing the profession into disrepute according to the GOC.

In its determination, the GOC's Fitness to Practice committee said removing Mr Jordan from the register was the only sanction that would be sufficient to protect patients.
It is said that he had shown "disregard for his professional colleagues" and had an "inflated and unwarranted confidence in his own professional abilities".

The determination said he had "disregard for the scope of his practice and the potential risks to patients".

It said there had been "repeated and persistent departures from professional standards" and that despite his best intentions "there had been potential for harm to patients as a result of deliberate conduct".

Jordan struck offIt added that there had been "a series of abuses of patients' trust and their rights to be informed and involved in their treatments".

Before his GOC hearing, Mr Jordan told BBC Scotland he felt he had to try to help patients whose visual problems were not corrected by traditional refractive lenses.

He said he would continue his work as a visual processing consultant - which he can do despite being struck off.

Mr Jordan said there were many people whose vision could not be treated with strong lenses but who could be helped by filters.

He said: "The differences in people are life-changing. We see people on a daily basis with all sorts of major problems."

Mr Jordan claimed many people on the autistic spectrum had some form of prosopagnosia or face-blindness, a cognitive disorder of face perception rather than a problem with their eyes.

He claimed optical professionals were usually unaware of the importance of tints but the effect was well known in the autism community.

He said: "In some cases in autism, for instance, if you can't see your parent's face but you don't have a refractive error that is significant - that means you don't have a strong enough lens - you are told you can't use the health service."

He admitted there was not much official research into this area and more needed to be done to prove the effectiveness of the treatments.

He said: "I think it is absolutely essential that people with these sorts of problems are addressed. It is a crying shame it has been ignored for so long."
Mr Jordan said: "Sadly, the methods which are commonly used in optics often do not address the problems in special needs.

"We have experience and deal with these problems on a daily basis and have won awards in this context - probably the only practice in the UK to be so honoured.

"At all times I worked in the best interests of the patients. I am happy with my position."

News from the General Optical Council meeting held on 28 February 2018.

March 2018

Approach to Business Standards

Council approved the GOC’s proposed approach to consult and engage with stakeholders on draft Standards for Optical Businesses.

The new Standards have been developed as part of the GOC’s ongoing standards strategic review which saw the introduction of the Standards of Practice and Standards for Optical Students in April 2016. The new Standards for Optical Businesses will replace the existing Code of Conduct for business registrants and intend to provide clarity on what the GOC expects from optical businesses. They will complement and be consistent with the GOC’s other standards.

The development of the draft Standards has been informed by an extensive research exercise and informal engagement with the GOC’s stakeholders, as well as testing with its advisory committees.

Director of Strategy, Alistair Bridge, said: “It’s important that our individual and business standards sit in harmony with one another, with a consistent approach that strikes the right balance between an individual’s responsibility and those of the business.”

The GOC is now planning to launch a full public consultation on the draft Standards in late April 2018, which will seek to obtain input from a wide range of stakeholders, including patients, employers and those working within optical businesses.

In parallel, the GOC is pushing for legislative change to require that all businesses carrying out restricted functions be required to register, which is not currently the case. In the meantime, the GOC is encouraging all businesses to register as a matter of good practice and to meet the new Standards when they are introduced, regardless of the business’ registration status.

Fitness to Practise (FTP) Update

Council considered and noted the GOC’s timeline for anticipated achievement of the end-to-end Key Performance Indicator (KPI) for FTP case progression times.

Building upon the extensive improvement work already completed, the GOC expects to put in place more dedicated resource this year to help speed up the FTP process.

Director of FTP, Lisa Davis, said: “Our overriding statutory function is to protect the public and by striving to deal with FTP cases more quickly and effectively, we will minimise the risks to the public and alleviate stress for registrants and complainants involved in the FTP process.”

Equality, diversity and inclusion

Council considered the GOC’s update on Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) actions undertaken and planned, and noted the good progress made in achieving its objectives, for example by increasing training and awareness and improving its IT systems to capture EDI data securely, enabling more robust analysis.

Council made the following suggestions to support registrants in improving behaviours on EDI issues to improve patient care:

• The GOC should challenge the membership organisations to issue guidance to registrants in practice situations;

• EDI and safeguarding training should be better embedded within education, CET and inductions;

• The GOC should consider establishing a small focus group to discuss the barriers faced when returning to work.

The GOC is currently asking all registrants to provide anonymised EDI data as part of the renewal process. The GOC will use this data in line with its Approach to EDI monitoring statement to help better understand trends in the professions, identify areas which may be barriers to particular groups, and evaluate its processes to determine fairness of outcomes in its decision making.

Other news

Council approved the GOC’s 2018-19 budget. The business plan and budget will both be published on the GOC website once finalised.

Implementing new data security and protection requirements – New OC and LOCSU guidance

March 2018

The Optical Confederation and LOCSU have published joint guidance on the new Data Security and Protection Requirements, published by the Department of Health in November last year.

The 2017-18 Data Security and Protection Requirements apply to all providers of locally commissioned eye health services under an NHS Standard Contract—such as LOC companies (also known as Primary Eyecare Companies) or individual contractors. LOC companies need to ensure that their subcontractor optical practices which deliver services on behalf of the LOC company also comply with these requirements. These standards do not apply to GOS contracts.

To comply with these requirements LOC companies and optical subcontractors and contractors must have a named person in a management role responsible for data and cyber security; should have completed the Information Governance Toolkit by 31 March 2018; and begun preparations for GDPR. You can see the full guidance here.

The IGT will be replaced by the Data Protection and Security Toolkit in 2018/19. LOCSU and the Optical Confederation will update guidance in due course. You can read the Optical Confederation guidance on changes to data protection and how to prepare for GDPR HERE

PHN has provided a briefing document on GDPR and how it will affect primary care operations here

OFNC seeks NHS eReferral grant for optical practices.

March 2018

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 this year elsewhere in primary care, as has been widely reported in the media. Unfortunately, at the last minute, this proved not to be possible. However NHS England do now seem to accept that investment in this area is needed and have committed to working with the OFNC to find a solution in 2018/19, although no budget has yet been allocated.

Ann Blackmore, FODO Director of Policy and Strategy and OFNC Secretary, said: “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.”

GOC appoints doctors to advisory committees

February 2018

The General Optical Council (GOC) has appointed three new doctors to its statutory advisory committees.

The committee members will provide expert advice on key areas of the GOC’s work, particularly in how it links with medicine and the work of doctors.

Speaking about the appointments GOC Chair, Gareth Hadley, said “We have always had doctors on our committees in line with our constitution but with the way the optical professions are changing, nowadays their advice to us takes on a greater importance than ever before.

“With an increase in multidisciplinary working, and optometrists and dispensing opticians taking on more enhanced service roles that were traditionally the domain of ophthalmologists, it is more vital than ever that the Council has the right knowledge and expertise from the world of medicine.

“Our new appointees have a wide range of expertise from different areas of practice. They will all bring that expertise to their new roles and I very much look forward to working with them.”

Dr Wayne Lewis joins the GOC’s Companies and Investigations Committees. Wayne has worked as a GP partner since 1995. He was involved in medical education, particularly undergraduate teaching, until 2010 when he took on a performance assessment role with the General Medical Council. He has also worked for the Public Service Ombudsman for Wales as a GP advisor.

Dr Cecilia Fenerty joins the GOC’s Standards Committee. Cecilia is a Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon at Manchester Royal Eye Hospital (MREH) and runs a specialist tertiary referral service for complex adult and paediatric glaucoma. Cecilia has also had roles with the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, the Royal College of Ophthalmologists and the College of Optometrists.

Dr Imran Jawaid joins the GOC’s Education Committee. Imran is currently an ophthalmology registrar and former optometrist, he has a keen interest in medical education for optometrists and is a director at Optometry Consultancy.

All the appointees take up their positions on 1 March 2018.

RCOphth Commissioning Guide for Adult Cataract Surgery - Revised 

February 2018

The Royal College of Ophthalmologists has revised its Commissioning Guide for Adult Cataract Surgery

The updated document comes following the publication by the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) of ‘Cataracts in adults: management’ in October last year.

RCOphth notes that this contained the key recommendation that arbitrary thresholds of visual acuity should not be used to restrict access to cataract surgery, and has considered this in its own update. 

In this new version, RCOphth aims to provide patients, health and social care professionals, commissioners and service providers with a clear description of what constitutes a high quality service in this area.

The guidance also helps an organisation to assess its current performance against evidence-based measures of best practice and identify priorities for improvement in the management of cataract care pathways. 

GOC to discuss proposed consultation on business standards at next meeting.

February 2018

The next public meeting of the GOC is scheduled to take place this Wednesday.

Amongst the topics tabled for discussion is the planned consultation on business standards, alongside fitness to practice, the 2018/19 budget and the GOC’s equality, diversity and inclusion work.

Council meetings are free and open to the public, but space is limited, so if you are interested in attending, please register your interest in advance by contacting Lisa Harmshaw by Tuesday 27 February on 020 7307 9483 or by emailing

For the full agenda and meeting papers, click here.

Changes to GOC annual registration renewal process

February 2018

The GOC has produced additional clarification to registrants this week on what information you need to provide for the annual renewal of registration.

All registered optometrists and dispensing opticians are now being asked to complete a separate online form (separate from their renewal application) asking for confirmation of qualifications relevant to their registration.

Registrants are also requested to complete the Equality and Diversity Information, as this will help the GOC to better understand the makeup of the profession.

Not providing this information will not prevent you from renewing your registration, but the GOC will continue to send reminders during the renewal period if you do not.

The additional information can also only be provided through the personalised link found in individual emails and not through MyGOC.

The GOC has produced an FAQ page on the changes here

College of Optometrists conducts second report on Scheme for Registration.

February 2018

The College of Optometrists has published a report analysing pre-registration trainees’ performance on its Scheme for Registration (SfR).

The report is based on demographic and performance data of a single cohort of 593 pre-registration trainees enrolled on the College’s SfR between 1 June 2014 and 31 May 2015.

This is the second time such a report has been conducted, following the initial report analysing the 2013-2015 cohort.

This report, in similar style to the first report published in 2016, provides detailed comparative information of trainee performance over two cohorts, related to several factors, including their undergraduate degree classification and common areas of failure. Key report data and comparative data from the previous data report is listed below:

• The main proportion of trainees entered the Scheme with a 2:1 classification (47 per cent), this has decreased slightly from the analysis published in 2016 (49 per cent).

• There continues to a correlation between undergraduate performance and performance on the Scheme; i.e. the higher the degree classification, the less likely the student is to require additional visits or resits at any Stage of the Scheme. For example, 55 per cent of those trainees with a first class degree required no additional visits or resits in contrast to 18 per cent of trainees with a 2:2.

• 37 per cent of trainees required no resits or additional visits at any stage of the pre-registration training. This is a decrease of 5 per cent from the previous year.

• If a trainee in this cohort struggled, it tended to be at the work-based assessment, 82 per cent of trainees in this cohort passed Stage 2 by their second attempt. The number of trainees needing further additional resits slightly increased (17 per cent) from the previous report, identifying Stage 2 as an area where trainees are beginning to struggle more.

Furthermore, the second most represented profile amongst the cohort, shows that 20 per cent of candidates needed a single resit at Stage 2 and no additional visits or resits at any other stage of the Scheme, identifying Stage 2 as the stage at which a trainee is most likely to resit.

• The first-time pass rate for the OSCE is 78 per cent; slightly lower than the previous year (82 per cent). The introduction of new stations sampling more widely across the assessment framework may account for the slight decrease. The number of those struggling at the OSCE stage remains low (4 per cent) for this cohort.

• Female optometrists in this cohort far outnumbered their male counterparts, with 68.5 per cent of trainees being female and 31.5 per cent male, similar figures to the previous report.

The College’s Optical Workforce Survey findings, published in 2016, also showed a balance in favour of females, with 57.5 per cent of respondents being female and 42.5 per cent male.

• Female students performed better than male trainees, with 11 per cent more males than females defined as Struggling (one of three gradings used, the others were Best and Standard). This shows an increase of four per cent from the previous analysis, suggesting the attainment gap widened between the genders for this cohort.

• As in the previous report, the findings broadly indicate that students tend to undertake their pre-registration training in the same region as their chosen university. This corresponds with the findings of the College’s Optical Workforce Survey and suggests that each university feeds its own region’s pre-registration optometric workforce.

• Larger multiple practices continue to provide the vast majority (85 per cent) of pre-registration training placements for this cohort.

• The proportion of different ethnicity of trainees is consistent across reports but the gender balance within Asian Indian and White British (the two largest ethnicity groups) has switched in this report compared to the report published last year.

Jackie Martin, Director of Education at the College of Optometrists said; “Publishing this second report allows us to begin mapping patterns in performance for those on the Scheme. Although more in-depth statistical analysis is required to develop and understand patterns; we hope that this report will provide useful information for trainees, supervisors, universities and employers. The report identifies Stage 2 as an increasing area of difficulty for trainees, suggesting that trainees in this cohort struggled more with the synoptic, overarching nature of this complex assessment. It is important that trainees develop the skills to be able to apply the elements of competence from Stage 1 in a joined up way. We are satisfied that the Scheme is doing its job in terms of setting and maintaining the highest standards for the profession.”

Capita and Primary Care England - National Audit Office inquiry, FODO staff make inquiry visit.

February 2018

FODO Chief Executive David Hewlett and Director of Policy and Strategy Ann Blackmore met with the National Audit Office (NAO) recently as part of a new inquiry into NHS England’s management of the Primary Care Support Service (PCCS).

Together with Optical Confederation colleagues, David and Ann detailed the history of the ongoing fiasco, providing all the evidence we have of failings in claims and payments, helplines, customer service, optometrist listing, grants payments, contract application processing and clearing the backlog of unreconciled claims.

They explained that the project had failed through the premature cutting of NHS England staff, and that this had been compounded by haste, over-ambition and the lack of any real management grip at all levels of the project itself.

They also made very clear our concern about the planned claims and payments transformation remaining in the hands of NHS England, PSCE and Capita.

Following the publication of the inquiry’s report, expected in late spring / early summer, NHS England is likely to be called before Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee to answer for any failings.
Capita - update on CET claims

The OC now understands that Capita have now paid all CET claims in January, except those that were missing information on the claim form.

If you are a contractor and you have not received a CET payment in respect of an optometrist for this period, you should email, putting ‘Unpaid CET claim - optometrist’s name and GOC number’ in the subject header. You should also include the date you submitted the claim in the body of the email and state clearly whether it was sent by email or post. (Please note: The chasing email must be sent by the contractor(s) representative, not the named performer)

FODO says it has not heard of any outstanding CET payments for January yet, but if this applies to you, and you are a FODO member please let them know, so they can also raise the issue with Capita on your behalf in our ongoing correspondence with them regarding payment problems.

AOP opens nominations for 15 Council positions.

February 2018

Practitioners and students who are passionate about shaping the future of optics are being invited by the Association of Optometrists to put themselves forward to become AOP Council representatives, with nominations opening on Monday 26 February.

AOP Councillors ensure that views from around the UK and within the profession are represented in the AOP’s policy-making. The Association is encouraging members from across its membership to put themselves forward before the nomination period closes on 19 March.

Susan Bowers, AOP Councillor for the West Midlands, said that it was important for colleagues to consider nominating themselves. “It’s vital that the next generation come forward and take optometry into the future” she explained.

Alongside the 12 elected geographical posts being contested in 2018, three designated positions representing undergraduate students, pre-registration optometrists and newly-qualified optometrists are also open for application.

Speaking about his role, AOP Councillor for the East Midlands, Bhavik Parmar, said that holding the position was extremely rewarding, adding: “I would encourage optometrists from all backgrounds and experience to stand.”

Encouraging AOP members to apply, Henrietta Alderman, AOP Chief Executive, said: “In 2018 and 2019 the AOP Council will discuss some of the key challenges and opportunities facing optics, including the GOC’s education strategic review, and potential changes to the regulation of the profession. It’s a really interesting time to be involved.

“If you think you can represent your peers and want to help steer the profession, please consider putting yourself forward to be an elected or designated representative.”

Voting for elected positions will be open from 3-23 April, with all qualified AOP members eligible to vote. Designated positions will be chosen by the AOP Appointments Committee. The results will be announced in May.

For more information, including the role of Councillors, the election timeline and a video of why being an AOP Councillor is rewarding work, visit the AOP website

GOC Chair calls for more collaboration between system leaders in future of eye and vision services.

February 2018

Gareth Hadley, Chair of the General Optical Council (GOC), is today calling for more collaboration and cooperation between the wider health system and the optical sector.

Gareth’s call follows the regulator today publishing a summary of its recent discussions about the potential future direction of eye health and vision services in the UK.

Following a health system leaders’ roundtable meeting, held by the GOC in November as part of its Education Strategic Review, the new document summarises key themes from the meeting.

These include the importance of developing increased collaboration, cooperation and integration between eye health and vision services and wider health systems, and equipping future optical professionals with the skills and knowledge to practise safely and competently in new and different ways.

Gareth Hadley said: “We know that throughout the UK more optical services are being delivered in new and innovative ways, including in a variety of community settings. Our role at the GOC is to ensure new practitioners are equipped to practise safely and competently in this evolving landscape. That is why our Education Strategic Review is such a key priority for us over the next two years."

“But it is also vital that the optical and wider health sector pursue a joined up and collaborative approach to ensure the delivery of safe, accessible and cost effective eye health and vision services that patients have confidence in and can navigate easily.”

To read the summary statement please click here

AOP seeks volunteers for vital Peer Support Line.

February 2018

The Association of Optometrists (AOP) is seeking members to volunteer for our important wellbeing service – which is rated 100% supportive by those who use it.

The AOP Peer Support Line is a confidential, free-phone helpline for individuals to discuss their problems. The service provides callers with the opportunity to talk to a fellow optical professional in a dedicated non-judgemental space – with the aim of giving them relief and clarity over the issues affecting them.

Volunteers take calls on a range of subjects including workplace pressure, bullying, ill health, financial worries, bereavement or anxiety about exams.

Thurka Sivapalan, Chairwoman of the Peer Support Line, said: “Often the first step to feeling in control of a problem is talking about it. However, sometimes it doesn’t feel quite right to share with those closest to you, perhaps because you feel like it will be a burden or you’d like an outside perspective, for this reason, the Peer Support Line offers an invaluable service. Ms Sivapalan added: “Last year, we had good take-up, with an increasing number, month on month, of individuals calling the line about issues of worry or stress.”

The AOP is looking for qualified AOP members who are either still working, retired or on a career break, and who are driven to make a difference and would like to help sustain this vital support network for the profession.

Applicants will be empathetic, able to refrain from giving advice, have excellent listening skills and commit to being available to take calls two days per month.

The Peer Support Lines is answered 24 hours a day, by an external answering service, with volunteers on duty to return calls between 8am and 8pm. It aims to give callers fast confidential access to trained volunteers who understand the pressures of optical practice.

For further information about the role including details on how to apply, please read the volunteer role description and download an application form here

The closing date for applications is Friday 23 February 2018.

GOC suspends Nottingham-based optometrist.

February 2018

The General Optical Council (GOC), the UK regulator for optometrists and dispensing opticians, has decided to suspend Alpesh Bhundia, an optometrist based in Nottingham, from its register for a period of nine months.

A GOC Fitness to Practise Committee found his fitness to practise impaired by reason of misconduct, relating to him making a series of amendments to a patient’s record. The amendments first followed the receipt of a complaint made to the practice by the patient’s mother, then again following notification from the GOC of a fitness to practise investigation.

In making the decision, the Committee, chaired by Pamela Ormerod, said: “The Committee was concerned with two occasions on which the registrant had amended patient records by adding, long after the event, plausible details of which he had no independent recollection. The purpose of the additions was to protect himself in the face of a patient complaint and an investigation by the GOC.

Fellow professionals rely upon clinical records as a contemporaneous and accurate record of what occurred at the consultation to which the records relate. The Committee is in no doubt that fellow professionals would regard the Registrant’s behaviour as deplorable.

However the Committee was satisfied that the Registrant had shown genuine remorse for his behaviour and had developed some insight into what had gone wrong. The committee also concluded that the risk of repetition of this type of conduct is low”

Mr Bhundia has until 6 March 2018 to appeal the decision. If no appeal is lodged, the suspension order will take effect on 7 March 2018.

So, could the NHS do with an extra £119 million pounds?

February 2018

The NHS Counter Fraud Authority put out a press release just before the 100% Optical Show which stated that £119 million was the estimated amount fraudulently costing the NHS Optical Sector.

Before our readers panic over that eye watering amount we should explain that at of that figure £71 million is accounted by optical patient fraud.

One might call this discussion a game of two unequal halves considering the inability for the NHS contractors to pay many of our fellow practitioners at the correct time. This may be not illegal but it is certainly negligent.

So PHN’s editor agreed to interview James Robertson the senior media officer of the NHSCFA at the show.

We broached the subject of non-payment of fees against overpayment of optical fraud to James and true to NHS form, he had no knowledge of the problems of Capita’s negligence and inability to perform even a standard service.

The NHSCFA states that:

The primary areas of optical fraud involve:

1 Patients claiming exemption from payment when they are not entitled

2 Unjustified early sight test recalls by contractors

3 Contractor claims where patients did not receive the claimed-for service

4 Contractor claims for a service the patient paid for

5 Patient did not receive the service the contractor claimed for

We can’t comment on the outliers that exist in our own professional service except to say that there will of course always be someone performing poorly within 7000+ optical outlets. But those who do not respect the law and their contracts know the risks and know that their peers will hang them out to dry and suspend or deregister them where the case is proven. The NHSCFA claims that Optical Contractor fraud is estimated to be £48 million pounds per year.

The greater fraud as we have said is with optical patient fraud and once again James was not aware of the continuing impasse on optician’s ability to use their business solution PMS to use eGOS. A solution that even if it didn’t remove patient fraud totally would throw the challenge fairly and squarely on the NHS payment contractors to check and verify.

Your editor instigated the initial discussions on behalf of a major chain with the DOH and later the team that now bears the name NHS Digital. That was 16 years ago, and a team of all the then current PMS providers as well as FODO reps were brought together. FODO’s working group morphed into an OC group and initially movement was achieved when Specsavers and VE along with some independents started eGOS in some selected areas.

There are a number sticking points that have made what should have been an easy win for all into a nightmare scenario.

Originally, many practices had not taken on computerisation and many were sharing telephone access between modems and pdq machines. (Not joking)

The same for the contractor payment systems that were area dependent and fragmented.

Electronic signature was and still is not allowed and therefore requiring scanning of GOS forms and their storage. I have never met the mandarin that has opposed this simple enactment but would love to trade arguments with them.

Then there was the argument on costs. Who should pay? The pharmacists scored well in their digital transformation with full payment so why not us? This puts the membership organisations into a go-slow mode, not wanting to appear to choose a way forward that might cost their members money. To the point where one representative of a membership organisation even suggested that eGOS would provide practitioners with no advantages.

That is of course nonsense and a larger number of practices are now enjoying the benefits including automatic checking of GOS forms and patient statements, auto listing and individual allocation of funds against patients, simple debt collection and debtor control. And usually (not always) faster payment.

The NHSFCA had no idea about these conflicts and how if they were to spend a little money on eGOS implementation they would save the lion share of patient fraud.

James and I agreed that as supporters of the NHS we all should push towards reducing fraud and making payment easier.

This prompted me to attend the NHS England PCSE stand as I had heard a whisper that all personnel on it were in fact Capita staff. (My chance for an Optical Crusade! See Capita Story below)

Capita staff were on the NHS PCSE stand to promote “Future service developments for ophthalmic payments”.

February 2018

The vison is to transform previously locally managed operations into a “modern and efficient national customer-focused service”

(You couldn’t make this stuff up, but we are writing it up for you!)

On questioning, none of the 3 Capita staff were aware of any payment delay problems Capita were creating. They were just there to promote eGOS. They knew no background information although one of them did vaguely no about the impasse on electronic signatures.

So, eGOS online will be rolled out this summer nationwide, with new GOS forms to “scan” but a manual application will be available.

The document does say that electronic signatures will be used but on questioning the staff were not sure if that removed the signature from the forms that were scanned in and whether the forms would still have to be retained in the practice. PHN will check this out.

Therefore, we are exactly where the original group got to back 13 years ago but of course with a now digitally educated workforce. Will they offer part subsidy on implementation? No sign of that but if they did provide an incentive then it would save Capita money and the bother of teaching their staff how to pay opticians and it would reduce fraud thus saving the NHS millions each year.

Seems like a no brainer to us and to the representative of NHSCFA, I think my suggestion to the stand members of NHS England was a little over their paygrade.

Watch this space.

Optical Confederation calls on NHS England to take urgent action to address Capita failures.

February 2018

The Optical Confederation has on the Monday 22 January 2018 written to Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of NHS England, calling for urgent action to address the ongoing failure of Capita to fulfil their contractual obligations.

The letter highlights the “utter frustration, dissatisfaction and anger” at the continuing failure of the Primary Care Support England (PCSE) service delivered by Capita for NHS England. Echoing a similar letter from the British Medical Association (BMA), the Optical Confederation Chief Executives describe the situation as “completely unacceptable”, pointing out that Capita has failed to deliver on promises to rectify the situation dating back as far as April 2016.

The optical sector has “no confidence” in Capita, which has failed to manage the ophthalmic payments service to an acceptable standard, to execute the processing and payment of CET schemes within expected timescales for the second year running, and to manage and process Performers List and GOS contract applications.

In light of these failures, the Optical Confederation has formally requested that unless a “cast iron guarantee” be provided by the end of the financial year (April 2018) that the backlog of payment issues will be resolved by the end of June and that the service will be operating at the required standard by that point, then the contract should be taken away from Capita. The Optical Confederation recognise that this would involve significant upheaval, but nevertheless believe that it would be in their members’ best interests.

The letter is signed by the Chief Executives of Optical Confederation member bodies, the Association of British Dispensing Opticians (ABDO), the Association of Optometrists (AOP), the Federation of Ophthalmic and Dispensing Opticians (FODO) and the Director of Clinical Services for the LOC Support Unit (LOCSU).

You can read the full letter here.

Since that letter the Optical Confederation and LOCSU have responded to the Capita profit warning

The Optical Confederation and LOCSU has said the Government and NHS England “must prepare to step in” if Capita continues to let down NHS primary care contractors. This follows Capita’s profit warning and share price drop on 31 January 2018.

Optical Confederation Chair, Fiona Anderson said: “Our members have already been suffering for two years because of Capita’s failure to deliver a primary care support service in England. We wrote to Simon Stevens only last week (see above) to set out our members’ continuing anger and frustration at Capita’s failure to improve and our complete lack of confidence in Capita. We said then that unless things turn around immediately, the time has come for NHS England to find another service provider.

“This recent news underlines the need for NHS England and the Government to prepare to step in and make sure the vital care that our members and other NHS contractors provide to patients is properly supported – whatever Capita’s financial problems. As we’ve seen with Carillion, it is ultimately up to the Government to make sure the failings of private service providers don’t damage the NHS.”

The 2018 Winner: Sinead McGurk Opticians from N Ireland. AOP Practice of the Year

January 2018

Practice of the year AOP winner

“A winner should be passionate about what they do, allowing that passion to spill over so that it is evident for all
to see”
Fiona Anderson, President of the Association of British Dispensing Opticians

For this Northern Ireland-based independent opticians, its relocation, bespoke redesign and focus on branding have all contributed to its successful growth

Originally established in 2002, its relocation in May 2016 enabled Sinead McGurk Opticians to offer an enhanced patient experience that focuses on putting the patient first at every stage of the eye care journey.

From the technology that it has in the examination room, to the niche eyewear selection and customer service, owner, Sinead McGurk, considered everything, with the importance of the patient journey emphasised to the architect to ensure a seamless flow on a daily basis.

Winning practice with easyscanMs McGurk describes the practice as spacious with a stylish interior. “It exudes an aura of calm, and gives the client confidence that we are professional, and can deliver our services with flair,” she said.

“The examination room is well-equipped, but uncluttered,” the optometrist shared, highlighting that investment in technology saw the practice become the first in Northern Ireland to have a EasyScan with advanced SLO technology. (left)

Easyscan take sole stand at 100%

Easyscan info

Ms McGurk emphasises that the practice’s “small but dedicated team” are “outstanding.” They develop a professional relationship with clients in a friendly, welcoming manner, ensuring that they can fulfil their requirements with products and services, whilst paying attention to detail at all times, she said.

“It exudes an aura of calm, and gives the client confidence that we are professional” said Sinead McGurk

Others who won awards at the AOP 100% Awards Night.

Practice of the year AOP winner
Practice of the year AOP winner
Practice of the year AOP winner

Child vision screening resources updated from October 2017 this January.

January 2018

A set of resources to support the commissioning and delivery of child vision screening. Includes a service specification, competencies, leaflets and template letters.

Click here for October originals and updates.

College of Optometrists announces Council election results.

January 2018

The College of Optometrists has announced the results of its recent Council election. Prab Boparai MCOptom was elected to represent members in the West Midlands, with Dr Irene Ctori MCOptom joining as a College Council member for London. Deepali Modha MCOptom was elected unopposed to represent the Eastern region, with Lisa O'Donoghue MCOptom and Lorcan Butler MCOptom elected unopposed to represent Northern Ireland.

The following members retain their seats on College Council:
• Johnathan Waugh MCOptom (Scotland)
• Colin Davidson FCOptom (South East)
• Stephanie Campbell MCOptom (South West)
• Professor Leon Davies FCOptom (West Midlands)
• Dr Joy Myint FCOptom (London)
• Parth Shah MCOptom (re-elected unopposed, Eastern).

Prab Boparai MCOptom said: “I am delighted to have been given this opportunity to work with my peers and colleagues in the College. I am very grateful to those who voted for me in the West Midlands, and assure everyone that I will do my best to represent the views of everybody in the best manner possible. A particular area that I wish to focus on is in raising awareness of eye health and the profile of our profession to the nation. The profession is at times divided and we’re often in competition with one another, which can make it challenging to bring about the positive changes that benefit us all. We need to unite and work together with our optical representative bodies to make ourselves heard in both the NHS and the private health sector.”

Dr Mary-Ann Sherratt MCOptom, President of the College of Optometrists, said: “I would like to congratulate and offer a warm welcome to all the successful candidates of this year’s election. Our Council takes pride in ensuring that we all remain true to our principles and accountable to our members, so it’s very important we have ambassadors who are actively engaged in the College.

“I would also like to take the opportunity to thank all the outgoing Council members for the amazing work to help shape the future direction of the profession, namely Professor Kathryn Saunders, Sara McCullough, David Parkins, Francesca Marchetti, and Parminder Chohan.”

The new Council members will begin their terms after the College of Optometrists’ AGM, which is being held on 19 March 2018 as part of its annual conference, Optometry Tomorrow.

LOCSU highlights deadlines for Leadership Skills Module.

January 2018

A final reminder that applications for the 2018 Leadership Skills Module are to be submitted by end of play on Monday 8 January.

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

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 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 2018 cohort. If you would like to be considered for a funded place please download the application from the LOCSU website and return it to me at

Interviews will be conducted by conference call, provisionally planned for Wednesday 17 and Thursday 18 January 2018, so please indicate your availability on the application form. More information about the course structure can be found on the website.

AOP unveils 2018 CET programme.

January 2018

Over 300 interactive and non-interactive CET points available

AOP CETThe Association of Optometrists (AOP) has launched its extensive, 2018 Education and professional development programme – increasing the number of events it runs by 40% from 2017, to cater for practitioners in all modes of practice, across the UK.

The full programme delivers through a variety of face-to-face events, print and online channels, offering over 300 interactive and non-interactive CET points.

Following the sell-out success of the AOP’s pilot events in 2017, nine new locum events, in partnership with Johnson and Johnson Vision, will take place in 2018. Other new highlights to the programme include the AOP’s second CET-approved legal drama, webinars on a range of topics, and making accurate claims events in Scotland and Wales.

In addition to new initiatives, the AOP’s education programme continues to deliver established and highly valued events and conferences, including the flagship industry event, 100% Optical and the popular peer discussion and legal roadshows.

Ian Beasley
Dr Ian Beasley, the AOP’s Head of Education, said that the 2018 programme will provide education and training that underpins the whole practice team.

He explained: “The AOP has focused its efforts to expand the education offering in a way that helps all members of the practice team fulfil their individual roles. We are delighted to announce, following such a successful pilot run, that we will be delivering new locum events across the country, to cater for this important growing market in the industry. These events will include a session on safe practice through continuity of care and best practice for contact lens fitting. Therapeutics Manchester, which delivers a brand-new programme, also makes an exciting new addition for those specialising in this field or those who are looking to in the future.”


Ian BeasleyThe 2018 Education and professional development programme will begin with 100% Optical, 27-29 January.

As the official 100% Optical education and media partner, the AOP has developed a world-class CET and CPD programme available across several hubs, over the three-day show, which is celebrating its fifth year in 2018.

For more information on the 2018 Education and professional development programme, and to book events, click here

GOC announces new appointments to its Companies and Investigation committees.

January 2018

The General Optical Council (GOC) has today appointed two new registrant committee members to its Investigation Committee and three new business representatives to its Companies Committee. The committee members will provide expert advice on key areas of the GOC’s work, ensuring that it continues to take account of issues that affect registrants and the public and puts patient safety at the heart of its decisions.

Speaking about the appointments GOC Chair, Gareth Hadley, said “I would like to welcome our new committee appointments to the GOC. The input they will provide will be vital to our work in the coming months and years ahead. Their expertise will be invaluable in helping us to progress key projects such as our Education Strategic Review.”

Companies Committee business representatives

The GOC has appointed Gordon Ilett, Jonathan Gardner and Stephen Hannan as business representatives to its Companies Committee. The committee advises the Council and other committees on matters relating to business registrants and is made up of a combination of lay members and those which represent optical businesses.

Gordon Ilett is an optometrist and Managing Director of a small group of practices in South London and Kent. He has a special interest in learning disabilities and is a trustee and Vice-Chairman of SeeAbility. In his career Gordon has worked in private practice and in hospitals, also working to develop optometry training programmes in the UK and abroad.

This year, Jonathan Gardner became the Managing Director at Boots Opticians. Since joining Boots at aged 16 as a Saturday Healthcare Assistant he has had a number of varied roles in the company, working in retail, property, operations and HR. His most recent positon before moving to Boots Opticians was as Managing Director for Boots HearingCare

Stephen Hannan has been an optometrist since 2002 following his graduation from Glasgow Caledonian University. Since qualifying he has worked for Optical Express, holding a variety of positions including Regional Senior Optometrist, Clinical Services Manager and most recently Clinical Services Director. He has been published widely in scientific journals, and has a particular interest in refractive surgery.

Investigation Committee

The GOC has also appointed Christian Dutton and Richard Rawlinson to its Investigations Committee.

The committee considers allegations that a registrant may not be fit to practise (where Case Examiners cannot agree) and referrals from case examiners for an assessment of a registrant’s performance or health.

Christian Dutton has held a variety of posts as a clinical, organisational and volunteer optometrist. He holds a Master’s degree in clinical optometry and was awarded Fellowship of the College of Optometrists for promoting good practice locally and internationally. He has examined for Wales Optometry Postgraduate Education Centre (WOPEC) and the Worshipful Company of Spectacle Makers (WCSM) and currently works in community ophthalmology, telemedicine triage and clinical policy development.

Richard Rawlinson is a registered dispensing optician who practices and lives in Manchester. Richard hold a number of roles, including Commissioning Lead for the
Local Optical Committee Support Unit (LOCSU), Association of British Dispensing Opticians (ABDO) Regional Lead for the North of England, Midlands and Anglia and ABDO representative on the UK Domiciliary Eyecare Committee. In addition, he is a qualified Diabetic Retinal Grader and enjoys writing and presenting CET across the UK.

Appointees to the Investigation and Companies committees will take up their posts on 1 January 2018.

GOC suspends West Midlands-based dispensing optician.

January 2018

The General Optical Council (GOC), the UK regulator for optometrists and dispensing opticians, has decided to suspend Paul Cross, a dispensing optician based in the West Midlands, from its register for a period of 12 months.

A GOC Fitness to Practise Committee found his fitness to practise impaired by reason of misconduct, relating to processing refund transactions onto his own credit and/or debit card.

In making the decision, the Committee, chaired by Anne Johnstone, said: “The Committee found that Mr Cross’ conduct was financially motivated and dishonest. The Committee determined the registrant believed that he was entitled to recover his own expenses and payments for his locum work. He intended to recover such payments or expenses to which he felt entitled by intentionally representing these as transactional store refunds, a method which the Committee found that he knew and accepted was not permitted.

“The Committee has accepted that the registrant genuinely believed that he was entitled to the sums that he had recovered and had not been dishonest in his financial motivation, but had used a method of recovering the money which was dishonest in the way that he had gone about it.

“The Committee considered that the registrant’s conduct breached [the] Code [of Conduct] and had been serious misconduct. An order for suspension would make clear to the public that such behaviour was unacceptable and would not be tolerated within the profession.”

Mr Cross has until 3 January 2018 to appeal his suspension.

World Council of Optometry and American Academy of Optometry announce Joint Education Meeting in 2019

January 2018

The World Council of Optometry (WCO) and the American Academy of Optometry (Academy) will be co-hosting the 3rd World Congress of Optometry in conjunction with the Academy meeting to be held in Orlando, Florida, USA at the Orange County Convention Center. The meeting will feature joint CE tracks and will tentatively take place October 23-28, 2019.

Thousands of optometrists, optometry students and other eye care professionals from all over the world will have the opportunity to receive first-class education with discussions and lectures led by distinguished speakers and world-renowned optometrists.

In conjunction with the Academy meeting, the 3rd World Congress of Optometry will build on the excitement of the annual Academy meeting and continue the tradition of the 1st and 2nd Biennial World Congresses held in Medellin, Colombia in 2015 and Hyderabad, India in 2017, respectively. Information on all aspects of the meeting will be available in the future at and

As in past World Congresses, the 3rd World Congress of Optometry will serve as the global platform where practitioners, students, researchers and educators will share expertise and engage in the development of the future of the profession.

The Congress will have two principal tracks: Scientific and Educators. The specially designed Educators’ track of the Congress will offer lectures, workshops and poster presentations maximizing the opportunity to advance the optometric education agenda across the world and, through that, support the sustainable development of highly needed human resources.

The Scientific track of the Congress will provide a rich and diverse programme of lectures, symposia and clinical workshops complemented by poster presentations, video and photography covering a spectrum of significant themes.

The Academy’s 98th annual meeting will feature a wide array of clinically relevant CE courses and cutting-edge research in the clinical and vision sciences.

Attendees can choose from over 250 hours of lectures and workshops, Section and Special Interest Group symposia, hundreds of scientific papers and posters, and several memorable social events.

Attendees will also have access to learn about the latest optometric products and services in the exhibit hall.

“The Academy is very excited to announce our partnership with the WCO on our joint 2019 meeting in Orlando. The cutting-edge and diverse educational program coupled with Orlando’s world-class attractions will make for a truly exciting meeting,” said Dr. Joseph Shovlin, Academy President.

In 2019, the 3rd World Congress will showcase the latest advances in vision sciences, research in optometry, optics and contact lens cutting-edge technology, recognizing the United States as a world benchmark in vision sciences. Also, our partnership with COPE-approved Continuing Education Credit providers in the United States will ensure that the academic standards for the conference and workshops meet the highest and most widely recognized global education quality standards.

“We recognize that the 3rd World Congress of Optometry, in conjunction with the Academy meeting, will be an excellent platform where we share, learn, strategize and plan together for the future of optometry worldwide. We invite you to attend the 3rd World Congress of Optometry and Academy meeting in Orlando, Florida and work with us to make this event the largest and most recognized optometry meeting in the world for 2019. Together, we will do great things!” remarked Dr. Scott Mundle, WCO President.

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