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Opchat Magazine Professional Matters PagesProfessional Matters News, April to June 2018


For Ophthalmology Section Page Click Here.

GOC erases London based student dispensing optician.
FODO supports students’ desire for more clinical training.
ABDO responds to GOC research on a "perceived lack of clinical training"
GOC research shows "Newly qualified optometrists" want more clinical training before qualifying.
Wales Eye Care Services – Ophthalmic uplift for 2018-19.
GOC consults on new business standards.
World Class Glaucoma Imaging Atlas Launched in London.
GOC appoints Adam Sampson as Interim Chief Executive and Registrar.
GOC introduces Consensual Panel Disposal Policy.
Academy 2018 San Antonio Registration and Housing Now Open.
FODO Chair Lynda Oliver re-elected for second three-year term.
College of Optometrists’ funds Cochrane Review updates on vision screening and reading aids.
Vicky McDermott to take period of absence
Poppy’s death by a driver with “unfit to drive eye sight” could most probably have been averted.
GOC announces further timetable for education discussion.
OC wholeheartedly endorses NAO report conclusions re: unacceptable service of Capita and NHS England to primary care practitioners.
England Vision Strategy Conference 2018 first report.
OC provides access to Electronic download of Voucher Values for 2018
GOC calls this week for ‘sector-wide action on clinical experience for optical students’.
Still more GOS fee delays.
News from General Optical Council May 2018
AOP Awards 2019 launch with two new categories.
AOP announces new Council members.
Call for Abstracts for Academy 2018 San Antonio Scientific Program.
New standard processes for second pair and non-tolerance voucher applications.
AOP launches sector-wide optical workforce survey
Clive Marchant Inaugurated as New ABDO President.
Clinical Council for Eye Health Commissioning publishes new SAFE framework for eye health.
GOS Payments – further delays announced by FODO
High level Education Strategic Review consultation responses show support for new education approach
The Fee freeze continues for a third year running
College of Optometrists appoints new Lead Assessor for the Scheme for Registration
2018 Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) Student Travel Fellowship Recipients Announced
Trading Standards have challenged the way we display and sell frames.
Universal Credit – Updated OC guidance, March 2018
The last quarters professional matters news stories are obtainable here

GOC erases London based student dispensing optician.

June 2018

The General Optical Council (GOC), the UK regulator for optometrists and dispensing opticians, has decided to erase Anuradha Sharma, a student dispensing optician based London, from its register. She will now be unable to train as a dispensing optician in the UK.

A GOC Fitness to Practise Committee found her fitness to practise impaired by reason of misconduct, related to transferring customers’ Boots Advantage Card points to her own Advantage
card account and crediting points from a single purchase to her own account multiple times.

In making the decision, the Committee, chaired by Ian Crookall, said: “The Committee found that there is a high risk of repetition. The dishonesty occurred repeatedly and only ceased when she was caught. The Registrant has never admitted that she did behave dishonestly, nor has she apologised for her behaviour. The Committee therefore found her fitness to undertake training as a dispensing optician is impaired by reason of misconduct."

“The Committee finds that the appropriate and proportionate sanction is that of erasure. This is a case where the conduct of the Registrant fell far below the standards of the profession, where she has sought to deny her responsibility for that conduct and shift the blame on others. In these circumstances, it considered that the behaviour of the Registrant is incompatible with being a registered professional."

“In the Committee’s opinion there is a real and present risk of repetition of this conduct given the underlying attitudinal issues which the Committee has identified. In those circumstances the Committee considers that it is necessary to impose an immediate order of suspension in this case for the protection of the public and that such an order is otherwise in the public interest.”

Ms Sharma has until 18 July 2018 to appeal her erasure, during which time she is suspended from the register under an immediate suspension order.

FODO supports students’ desire for more clinical training.

June 2018

FODO fully supports the findings of new General Optical Council research that most newly qualified optical professionals would have liked to have had more clinical training before qualifying. This research echoes the experience of FODO members.

Commenting on the research findings, David Hewlett said “We absolutely agree with the GOC that our professionals of the future need more clinical training throughout their education. It will be important that these findings are reflected as the GOC takes forward the Strategic Education Review.”

He went on to say “FODO members fund and provide most of the training for DOs and the responses here are encouraging, although we clearly need to look at what more might be done.

We [FODO members] also provide the vast majority of pre-registration training for optometrists. We are already working with universities to expand direct practice-based contact with patients and clinical work from Year 1. This is likely to be the model in the new schools of vision sciences we are establishing. Both professions have a bright future building on our strengths of putting the individual at the heart of all we do as we move up the skills ladder.”

ABDO responds to GOC research on a "perceived lack of clinical training"

June 2018

Responding to the General Optical Council (GOC) research findings that only 26 per cent of newly qualified dispensing opticians felt as though the clinical experience received during their studies was insufficient, compared to 60 per cent of newly qualified optometrists, Clive Marchant, President of the Association of British Dispensing Opticians says:

“We are encouraged by the findings of the GOC research which reported 74% of newly qualified dispensing opticians were satisfied with the level of clinical experience they receive during training and well prepared for life as a qualified dispensing optician. In comparison only 40% of newly qualified optometrists were satisfied.

“The training pathway for a dispensing optician can be a full time course but the majority of students undertake a 3-year distance learning diploma or degree course. It is the blended learning over 3 years which prepares the student for life after qualification. All students are working in optical practices for a minimum of 30 hours per week which enables them to gain experience and confidence in all aspect of their work. In contract Optometrists have very little exposure to real patients and optical practice until their pre-registration year.

“So how do we increase the skills and confidence of all our students? Undoubtedly we must move to a blended learning education program for all dispensing opticians and optometrists. Secondly the supervising registrant must be adequately trained in supervision and the expectations of the student and education provider.

“Currently a dispensing optician or optometrist can supervise a student dispensing optician. One must question how an optometrist can supervise from the consulting room and do they have sufficient knowledge to supervise in all aspect of dispensing?

“Finally many student dispensing opticians are mature students who have worked in practice for many years as an optical assistants which provides invaluable confidence, in contrast to the majority of optometrists embarking on their degree program have come directly from college or school education.”

Further to this finding, the survey also uncovered that 14% of optometrists felt that their time during the entire period of education and training was too short compared to 1% of dispensing opticians.

GOC research shows "Newly qualified optometrists" want more clinical training before qualifying.

June 2018

Most newly qualified optical professionals think they didn’t get enough clinical experience during the academic parts of their training, according to new General Optical Council (GOC) research.

60 per cent of newly qualified optometrists felt that the amount of clinical experience they received during their degree course was insufficient. Some explained that their clinical experience during academic study was limited and often did not reflect real-life practice or typical patients. However, only 26 per cent of newly qualified dispensing opticians felt as though the clinical experience received during their studies was insufficient. Most had continued to work whilst studying and were able to apply their learning in a practical way.

The findings are taken from the GOC’s research, independently conducted by Enventure Research, into views and perceptions of newly qualified optical practitioners and optical employers across the UK, as part of its Education Strategic Review.

Gareth Hadley, Chair of the GOC, said: “We already know from our recent Concepts and Principles public consultation that most stakeholders want to see more enhanced clinical experience for student optometrists and dispensing opticians.

“We now learn that newly qualified registrants, and particularly optometrists, recognise that they would have benefitted from more clinical experience during their education both to support patient care and their development as optical professionals.

“We cannot ignore the breadth of support for earlier clinical experience for students in order to improve patient care and safety. I echo my previous call to action urging education providers, employers and professional associations to come together to ensure this is realised.”

The research also highlighted that 58 per cent of newly qualified optical practitioners were either unsure or did not agree that their education and training had adequately equipped them to work in a hospital setting. Some attributed this lack of confidence to the insufficient experience, education and training they received in secondary care settings during their studies.

Gareth Hadley said, “High street optometry is becoming more clinical which presents a real opportunity for optical practitioners to deliver new healthcare services locally and more quickly to patients, as well as to alleviate pressures from patient demand on hospital eye services.

“We know from our widespread engagement with the sector that registrants are keen to play a role in providing enhanced optical services on the high street, but we also understand that optical practitioners may need additional training and support to be able to work across both primary care and hospital settings.

“We are keen to work alongside stakeholders across the optical sector to address these practical challenges and ensure that optical students are receiving the education and training necessary to prepare them for their future roles.”

The full research is available on the GOC website here

Wales Eye Care Services – Ophthalmic uplift for 2018-19.

June 2018

FODO report that optometrists at Optometry Wales have reached an agreement with the Welsh Government on the payment uplift to optometrists providing the Wales Eye Care Services for 2018-19.

This includes NHS sight test fees, NHS optical voucher values, payments for continuing education and training and pre-registration supervisors grant.

With regard to optometrists, the profession will receive a 1 % uplift for delivering the Wales Eye Care Services for 2018-19, the cost for which will be managed through the local health boards.

At a time when services are being cut back drastically, the acknowledgment by the Welsh Government of the vital role the optical profession plays in the delivery of primary care eye care services comes as welcome news. You can find all of the details on our website here.

GOC consults on new business standards.

June 2018

The General Optical Council (GOC) has today launched a consultation on new standards for optical businesses.

The consultation seeks views from patients, optometrists and dispensing opticians, employers and other stakeholders on a new set of standards to replace the GOC’s Code of Conduct for Businesses from April 2019.

The draft standards are designed to reflect changes in optical and wider healthcare practice over the last few years, including accounting for the increased prevalence of multidisciplinary working as the optical sector evolves. They will also reflect recent changes to the GOC’s individual standards such as the inclusion of the duty of candour and the need to obtain valid consent.
Alistair Bridge, GOC Director of Strategy, said, “To get these new business standards right it is vital that we hear from patients and the public as well as a wide range of stakeholders within the optical professions.

“We particularly want to hear from people about how responsibilities should be shared between individual professionals and the businesses they work for, about where individuals might require further support and about any difficulties that businesses might face in meeting the new standards.”

To make it easier to reply, this will be the first consultation that the GOC runs using its new online consultation hub at, the new online home for all GOC consultation activities.

Alistair Bridge added, “The new platform will provide a user-friendly interface for respondents to read the required information and respond simply and quickly online – not just on this business standards consultation but on all of our future consultations. It’s vital that we hear a wide range of views and this is designed to make that as easy as possible.”

The consultation opened today and will close on 30 August 2018. The GOC will analyse the feedback before its Council signs off the final version in November and the new Standards take effect from 1 April 2019.

1. You can view and respond to the consultation at

2. The GOC’s existing Code of Conduct for Businesses is at

3. The GOC’s existing individual standards are at and

World Class Glaucoma Imaging Atlas Launched in London.

June 2018

Insight into the most advanced glaucoma imaging – from world leading experts – was the focus at the Royal Society of Medicine last week when the first Heidelberg Engineering Glaucoma Imaging Atlas was launched.

Heidelberg at RSM

Designed to ensure eye health professionals take full advantage of the diagnostic and monitoring capabilities of OCT technology, Heidelberg Engineering launched the reference which includes contributions from 29 internationally respected clinicians.

“The diagnostic imaging guide for glaucoma assessment and management features contributors from five countries and 30 detailed patient case studies. It is the cornerstone of Heidelberg Engineering Academy’s educational programme,” said Ali Tafreshi, Heidelberg Engineering’s Director of Clinical Research in Germany.

“Our longstanding commitment to high-quality diagnostic imaging provides a global standard in eye care practices and academic institutions. The reference highlights the power the clinician gains from looking at high quality images to take full advantage of our technology and enhance diagnostic capability. The Atlas is designed to be used as a teaching tool to further educate the medical community on the implementation of OCT technology into the glaucoma clinic, as an aid to diagnosis and management, enabling effective, individualized patient care,” he said.

Presentations of case studies were made by Mr Tafreshi and Christopher Mody, UK Director of Clinical Affairs, and Professor Christian Mardin, Senior Consultant Ophthalmologist at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Germany
Professor Mardin spoke of the economic importance of early diagnosis and treatment of glaucoma as late stage treatment and care presented a “huge economic burden” –
“The financial burden of glaucoma increases with disease severity in terms of treatment, lost ability to work, drive and the implications to mental health.”

He presented a number of case studies from his clinic and the Atlas to show how neuroretinal rim, ganglion cell and retinal nerve fibre layer measurements, combined with accurate progression analysis, aid the clinician in making a confident glaucoma diagnosis –

“The Atlas should motivate full use of the latest scanning technology and how modern glaucoma diagnosis benefits from the use of OCT imaging in conjunction with traditional disc photography and visual field assessment,” he said.

GOC appoints Adam Sampson as Interim Chief Executive and Registrar.

June 2018

The General Optical Council (GOC) has today announced that Adam Sampson will join as its Interim Chief Executive and Registrar.
Adam will join the GOC on 18 June and be in place for the next few months. The GOC’s permanent Chief Executive, Vicky McDermott, is currently on a period of absence due to personal reasons.[see previous story]

Adam is an experienced Chief Executive with an extensive background in the charity and not-for-profit sectors. His previous roles include being Chief Legal Ombudsman and Chief Executive of the homelessness charity Shelter.

Gareth Hadley, GOC Chair, said, “Adam has the experience and expertise to provide the leadership the GOC requires while Vicky is away. He will ensure we maintain a strong focus on delivering our core public protection functions to the highest possible standard, on delivering our vital changes to business standards, CET and optical education, and on delivering our organisational transformation programme to deliver high-quality, efficient services to the public and our registrants.”

Adam Sampson said, “I am joining the GOC at what is clearly an exciting and important time for the organisation and for the optical sector as a whole. With new technology, changing patient pathways and new scopes of practice, the sector is evolving quickly and the GOC has a vital role in making sure that patient safety is maintained through that period. I’m looking forward to working with my new colleagues to make sure the GOC continues with this vital work until Vicky returns.”

GOC introduces Consensual Panel Disposal Policy.

May 2018

The General Optical Council (GOC) has today published its policy on Consensual Panel Disposal.

The policy will be used to identify and progress fitness to practise cases that may be suitable for concluding without a contested hearing if the registrant has admitted the allegation in full. For consensual panel disposal cases, the GOC will seek to agree an appropriate level of sanction with the registrant and make a sanction recommendation to the Fitness to Practise Committee.

The GOC consulted on the policy from August to September 2017 and received encouraging support from the stakeholders that responded.

Lisa Davis, Director of Fitness to Practise, said “We are pleased to introduce this new policy as we believe people on all sides will benefit. The consensual panel disposal policy will encourage registrants to participate in the fitness to practise process, and will give us the flexibility to adapt the process to each individual case. Most importantly, consensual panel disposal will help us to deal with cases expeditiously in order to protect the public.”

Further information about the policy can be found here.

Academy 2018 San Antonio Registration and Housing Now Open.

May 2018

The American Academy of Optometry’s annual meeting, Academy 2018 San Antonio, will take place November 7-10, 2018 at the Henry B. González Convention Center in San Antonio, TX. Registration and housing are now open and early bird registration ends September 7, 2018.

The American Academy of Optometry’s annual meeting offers 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, 15 Section and Special Interest Group (SIG) symposia, hundreds of scientific papers and posters, and several memorable social events.

This year’s Plenary Session from 10 AM – 12 Noon on Wednesday, November 7 is titled, “Today’s Research, Tomorrow’s Practice®: The Future of Health Care Delivery,” and will discuss the trends and concepts that will shape your future practice. What is the future of health care delivery? How will governments deliver health care to their citizens? Let's ask Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, Vice Provost for Global Initiatives, University of Pennsylvania. How will you deliver health care to your patients one on one? Let's ask Dr. Gordon Guyatt, Distinguished Professor at McMaster University and the man who coined the term "evidence based medicine." How will telemedicine be use by you and others to enhance patient care? Let's ask Dr. Anthony Cavallerano, Executive Director, Clinical Training and Patient Care and Adjunct Professor at New England College of Optometry.

The Monroe J. Hirsch Research Symposium is titled, “Vision Restoration for Retinal Degenerative Disease.” The goal of restoring vision in patients with retinal degenerative disease is within reach. The 2018 Hirsch Symposium will bring together three leading researchers to highlight different approaches to save or restore sight in patients with degenerative disease: gene replacement therapy, stem cell repair, and optogenetics to restore vision in severely damaged retinas. Speakers will include Drs. Sheila Nirenburg, Tom Reh, and Byron Lam.

Another not-to-be-missed event is the fourth joint symposium of the Academy and the American Academy of Ophthalmology titled, “Advances in Ocular Imaging.” Ocular imaging has become a major part of eye care. Practitioners must learn the interpretation of ever-changing images and decide how much weight to put into these findings as they diagnose and treat disease. This symposium will update you on the anterior segment, retinal and glaucoma applications of ocular imaging and their clinical implications. Speakers will include Drs. Austin Roorda, Joel Schuman, Don Miller, David Huang, Adrian Glasser, Hiroshi Ishikawa, Susana Chung, and Phillip Rosenfield. This symposium is a continuation of the effort by the two Academy organizations to work together to better prepare and support their members in delivering the highest quality eye care.

Ezell Fellows Present is a symposium where three investigators at different stages of their careers supported early on through the Foundation’s Ezell Fellowships present their research. The symposium this year is titled, “Contact Lens Discomfort: More Than (Where the Lens) Meets the Eye.” Contact lens discomfort (CLD) is a common cause for cessation of lens wear, and accordingly not only a struggle for patients, but also care providers, researchers, and lens manufacturers. This session will discuss factors related to the contact lens material and overall design, the ocular surface, and attributes and characteristics other than the contact lens and ocular surface which impact patient-reported CLD. Updates on new research, as well as treatments, and possible future directions will be provided. Speakers are Drs. Maria Markoulli, Lakshman Subbaraman, and Pete Kollbaum.

The Academy’s Sections and Special Interest Groups (SIGs) will present symposia on an array of topics from “Hot Topics in Comprehensive Eye Care” to “Overcoming Aggressive Glaucomas.” Attendees can choose to attend hundreds of Scientific Program papers and posters, as well as several exciting social events.
This year’s exhibit hall will be world class with more than 150 booths displaying the latest products and technology. Attendees will be able to take advantage of extended learning in Vision Theater session presentations by exhibitors, and Industry Innovations: Lunch + Learn sessions on Wednesday, November 7.

The American Academy of Optometry Foundation (AAOF) awarded more than $450,000 in scholarships, fellowships, grants and residency awards in 2017. Attendees can support the AAOF by donating during registration, at the meeting, or by participating in the silent auction onsite. The 2018 Ezell Fellows will be at the AAOF booth in the exhibit hall to speak with attendees about their cutting-edge research and why giving is important in aiding new optometric talent to achieve great things.

The Academy 2018 San Antonio Program Preview provides an overview of the exciting events and CE that will be offered. The Academy has contracted with several hotels within walking distance of the convention center.

FODO Chair Lynda Oliver re-elected for second three-year term.

May 2018

Lynda OliverFODO Chair Lynda Oliver (Outside Clinic) was unanimously re-elected for a further three years at the FODO Annual General Meeting in London on Tuesday this week.

Paul Carroll (Specsavers Optical Group); Stephen Hannan (Optical Express); William Stockdale (Optimise); and Giles Smith (Haines & Smith Opticians) were also re-elected as Directors, having stood again after having stood down on rotation.

Sarah Joyce (ASDA) and Stuart Burdett (Vision Express) also joined the Directors Board, filling vacancies following the resignation of Omar Hassan (Vision Express) and retirement of Eddie Watson (Boots). All Directors were elected for a period of three years.

At the AGM, Lynda Oliver formally launched the FODO Annual Review 2017/18 during her Chair’s address which is fully reported below:

Regarding membership matters, she said:

FODO Agm“These are challenging but also exciting times for our sector bringing both major opportunities and some risks. As I say in the introduction to the FODO Annual Review, this has been another tough but successful year both for FODO and our members as we work together to steer through the challenges and to make the most of the opportunities.

“Thankfully, due to our clinical, service and business success, FODO members continue to expand and new members also continue to join us. We were particularly pleased this year to welcome the Hakim Group into membership, for instance.

“This is important because, as existing members know, although we work hard to support successful optical practices, level playing fields and opportunities for all, we are agnostic about the business models themselves. Our members recognise the need for a variety of efficient models in the sector to offer patient choice and locally-based service solutions.

“All types and sizes of business are welcome as FODO members, as are all kinds and types of optical and ophthalmic registrant. The only condition we impose is that members share our aims of:

eye health for all high-quality services
delivered by registered professionals and trained staff
services that are close to, or in, patients’ own homes.

“As members know very well, the priorities for us as a Group are
high quality care
quality of service
the highest quality insurance and legal defence for all
and value for money both for patients and the NHS.

On fees:she continued

“On this last point, it is disappointing - to say the least - to see that - once again for most of the UK – GOS fees have been frozen and any pretence at paying realistic fees for the care provided has been abandoned.

“What makes this doubly galling is that the NHS sight testing service is by far the most cost-effective public health service in the UK, with 21 million case-finding examinations each year and far fewer errors than - comparable national programmes.

And on the dissapointing actions of the PSCE/CAPITA

“Speaking of errors brings me naturally to NHS England’s catastrophic handling of the payments service to Capita, which is still ongoing two and half years on.

“The National Audit Office report earlier this month found that “NHS England did not adequately assess the risk of service failure and Capita failed to recognise the scale and nature of the task it was taking on”.

“This was despite our warnings - talk about ’none so blind as those who will not see!’

“Looking ahead, the advice from the NAO to NHS England, which I paraphrase, is to:

- look at past performance when letting contracts - listen to what the sector is telling you - understand the service you are dealing with - agree sensible KPIs - manage the contract.

“It is to be hoped that NHS England has learned these lessons – especially about listening to the sector - as we hurtle towards what they like to call ‘e-GOS transformation’. Only time will tell. I hope too that everyone who is entitled to them has claimed late payment interest and submitted good will claims for the reimbursement they so rightly deserve.


“Further disappointment has come in the shape of the government’s dismissing out-of-hand our arguments for not requiring a Data Protection Officer in every GOS practice, with all the costs that that implies for the sector, especially small businesses which we thought were a key plank in the government’s economic strategy.

“This is yet another unnecessary and unfunded burden on optical businesses. It is pure gold-plating and was not in the original GDPR. It has nothing whatsoever to do with genuine data or patient protection but, like so much, in the NHS has everything to do with NHS bureaucratic convenience and back covering.

“We are actively engaging with the Information Commissioner’s Office to keep implementation as proportionate as possible for you. That takes time, so please bear with us as we work closely with OC colleagues on this to get the best possible outcome for all of us.

About the OC

“Again, as I say in the Annual Review, we are all stronger when we work together.

“And so, I am delighted that the Optical Confederation is still functioning as a concept and as a mode of working across the representative bodies.

“On major policy issues - such as GDPR and the GOC’s Education Review - sharing our intellectual resources is the logical thing to do. Combining our thinking, voice and efforts produces better results than any single organisation could achieve on its own, while also helping share the cost.

“That is the FODO way of doing things, and I am delighted to see this increasingly replicated at local level through FODO members’ input to optical representative committees and - in England now - through Primary Eye Care companies (PECs) and now the super–PECs.

“These new organisations have the potential to do great good for creating level playing fields and for minimising costs amongst providers. Like all human creations, they also have the potential to go wrong and become monsters of our own making.

“To avoid this, they need all the business, corporate and clinical governance expertise they can get, and nowhere are these in greater supply than amongst FODO members - so I would urge all members to get involved to make super-PECs or the super-PEC, if that is what happens, a success for everyone.

The ophthalmology connection:

“One of the great things about FODO is that, although our roots go back to the early 20th Century, the past is not a fetish for us. We learn from it, take what is best from it, and move onwards and upwards. In that regard it has been pleasing this year to see FODO moving further into the ophthalmology space, which is clearly where the future for many of our services lie, with an ageing population, acute capacity struggling and all four UK governments committed to moving care out of hospitals and into the community.

“NHS England, and Parliament have also been clear about:

rapidly growing public health needs
the need for early interventions
the need for services to change to cope with long-term conditions and multiple pathologies
the need to tackle sensory impairment - and I include both vision and hearing here –
and the crucial role vision and hearing have in helping an ageing population maintain independence, social inclusion and social functioning for as long as possible - both outside and within care settings.

“Colleagues, as ever FODO and FODO members have been pioneers at the forefront of these changes. But we now need to step up a gear especially with our ophthalmology members

“If the UK is to meet its eye health - and hearing needs – over the next few years, we, with our Optical Confederation and wider partners, need to find the means to make these changes happen at a faster pace.

“That is why we have been actively involved this year with NHS England’s Ophthalmology Transformation Programme and the All Party Parliamentary Group’s (APPGs) inquiry into NHS eye care capacity as well as the NICE guidelines on glaucoma, cataract and macular disease, and - with partners at the Royal College - on a refractive surgery dataset. If successful, this could well be the model for other ophthalmic datasets and data bases which will underpin and drive improvements in good clinical care in the future.

“No-one expects any of this this to be easy. It is difficult and painstaking work and ranged against us are systems inertia, vested interests, normal human resistance to change, combined on occasion with lack of confidence amongst our own people. But FODO has never shirked form the difficult we would be failing in our duty to patients and our members if we did not try.

“And it is here that FODO can bring our unique expertise to the assistance of both the NHS and the UK health care system more widely.

“To do that, over the coming year, we need to do two things:

build trust amongst the ophthalmology community, where traditionally this has been lacking, and establish new partnership and consensuses to take this work forward.

“We will be actively exploring these areas over the coming year both with our existing partners, and, we hope, some new ones, so watch this space.


“Closer to home we will also be further integrating our HQ operations across optics, hearing and ophthalmology to accommodate these new priorities, as well as to continue to expand our member support.

FODO Educational Report:


Prof Steve TaylorProfessor Steve Taylor FODO's educational lead then launched the second of two CET packs for use as guided peer review for FODO member facilitators on Candour.

The pack has already been trialled and adjusted for improvement and has approval from the GOC for CET points. The peer review group courses are free to FODO members and take approximately 1 hour to complete with 4 set statements to discuss and questions on each.

The trial of the pack showed how practitioners have a poor understanding of how to review, note and resolve cases where Candour is due. For example only a registered member of the practice with training to record every step of the process should be allowed to be involved.

Lissamine Green to get the green light!

Prof. Taylor announced that following a meeting with the College a consensus had been agreed that Lissamine Green is safe to use as long as it is CE marked. This agreement will be passed to the GOC and the safety experts as an update, but Taylor is confident that the staining agent can be used safely.

College of Optometrists’ funds Cochrane Review updates on vision screening and reading aids.

May 2018

The College of Optometrists has funded two Cochrane Review updates in support of the Cochrane Eyes and Vision (CEV) group based at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM). The global review updates were used to answer questions on the topics of Vision screening for correctable visual acuity deficits in school-age children and adolescents (Review) published 15 February 2018 and Reading aids for adults with low vision (Review) published 18 April 2018.

The review updates produced the following key findings:

Vision screening

• There are no studies comparing vision screening with no vision screening highlighting a gap in evidence.

• Vision screening with the provision of free spectacles results in more children wearing spectacles after screening compared with giving the children a prescription on its own. Children in the free-spectacle group had better educational attainment, although this evidence was not as strong.

• Ready-made and custom-made spectacles appear to give similar visual results and similar spectacle wearing compliance levels.

Reading aids for adults

• There is insufficient evidence supporting the use of a specific type of electronic or optical device for the most common profiles of low-vision aid users. However, there is some evidence that stand-mounted electronic devices may improve reading speeds compared with optical devices.

• There is less evidence to support the use of head-mounted or portable electronic devices; however, the technology of electronic devices may have improved since the studies included in this review took place.

• There is no good evidence to support the use of filters or prism spectacles.

The research was undertaken by College members Priya Morjaria MCOptom and Claire Allcock MCOptom, who assisted the CEV team in the evaluation of all empirical evidence that met a pre-specified criteria.

Priya Morjaria MCOptom, author of the vision screening review, said: “Over the past decade, it has become more apparent that as clinicians, we need evidence-based practice and practice-based evidence to make sure that we are not only doing what is best for our patients but also doing it in the best way possible. Findings from reviews help us understand this and ensure we continue to improve and do what is best based on evidence.

“This specific review highlights that screening children with a vision impairment and providing them with spectacles can increase their compliance with spectacles. This can in turn lead to better educational outcomes.”

Jennifer Evans, Editor at CEV, said: “Cochrane Eyes and Vision would like to thank the College of Optometrists for supporting two important Cochrane Review updates.

Uncorrected refractive error is an important cause of visual impairment in children. Approximately one per cent of children worldwide (13 million) are estimated to be visually impaired due to the eye disorder. The current update of the vision screening review enabled us to include emerging evidence that shows that vision screening with provision of free spectacles results in more children wearing spectacles and may lead to better educational attainment.

The second review demonstrates that it is important for people with low vision to find the right reading aid. Our review on reading aids for low vision provides a systematic assessment of the research in this area. The updated review provides evidence that electronic aids may help people with low vision with improved reading speeds and reading duration, compared with using optical aids. The review highlights lack of evidence for use of filters or prism spectacles for people with age-related macular degeneration.”

Speaking about the research, Mike Bowen, Director of Research at the College of Optometrists said; “At the College we’re proud to work with the leading resource for systematic reviews in health care and to fund research on behalf of our membership. It’s great to have the opportunity to produce evidence that will support two large population groups and fill knowledge gaps relating to evidence and public health.”

The findings from the vision screening and reading aids review updates have been published on the Cochrane Library website.

Martin Cordiner, Head of Research at the College of Optometrists, has written a blog about Cochrane reviews, which can be read on the College website.

Vicky McDermott to take period of absence.

May 2018

Vicky Mc Dermott GOCThe General Optical Council (GOC) has today announced that its Chief Executive and Registrar, Vicky McDermott, will take a period of absence for personal reasons.

As Vicky is likely to be absent from the GOC for a few months, the GOC expects an interim Chief Executive to be in place by the middle of June for the duration of Vicky’s absence.

Gareth Hadley, GOC Chair, said, “Vicky will be having some time away from the GOC over the next few months due to personal reasons. We will be giving her all the support she needs during this time and look forward to welcoming her back to work when she is ready.

“During that time it is important that we continue with the vital work that we have prioritised for this year. Over the summer we will be consulting on both new business standards and on the future of optical education. We will also be continuing with our staff consultation on our organisational transformation programme. I have every faith that our executive team will deliver on these vital projects.”

The GOC will announce details of its interim Chief Executive in the coming weeks.

Poppy’s death by a driver with “unfit to drive eye sight” could most probably have been averted.

May 2018

Poppy Arabella ClarkeShame on us all in the supposed eye caring sector we all work in for allowing the rules of intervention to be so slack.

Yes, that is to say the GOC, a public protection body, our College, again an organisation that puts public protection on a par with membership and other membership bodies including the Optical Confederation.

But mostly as eye care professionals at the coal face we should have advocated for change to allow us to withhold the legal right of drivers to anonymity and anyone else involved in activity requiring eye sight to a particular standard to carry on with disregard.

In the past we have paid lip service to the notion that all drivers should have regular eye tests, but to what end if we have no power to inform the authorities.

The VE bus is currently doing a sterling job in awakening the consciousness of drivers to take an eye test.

Let’s see them and other august organisations and retail groups as well as our voices of opinion back up this call for a change in law.

The profession needs to act!

Read Poppy's sad story here

GOC announces further timetable for education discussion.

May 2018

The GOC have announced the next stages of their Education Strategic Review (ESR).

In June they will consult on their approach to education and training, including new standards for education providers, their proposed approach to quality assurance of education providers and proposed changes to CET.

Final consultations on the ESR and CET review will happen in the autumn.

The GOC Council also gave provisional approval to the new BSc (Hons) Optometry programme at the University of West England, which is supported by the FODO Educational Trust and will start taking students this September.

A new registration process for optometrists from outside of the European Economic Area (non-EEA) has also been approved and takes effect on 4 June.

OC wholeheartedly endorses NAO report conclusions re: unacceptable service of Capita and NHS England to primary care practitioners.

May 2018

The Optical Confederation wholeheartedly endorses the conclusion of an NAO report published today (17 May) that the service to primary care practitioners from Capita and NHS England has fallen a long way below an acceptable standard.

Following its inquiry into NHS England’s management of the primary care support service contract with Capita, this hard-hitting report from the NAO found that ‘NHS England did not know enough about the services it inherited to set achievable service specifications and performance standards from the start of the contract’. There were also a lack of appropriate performance measures – for example, simply measuring if payments were made on time but not if they were accurate.

The NAO has called on NHS England to determine whether all current services within the PCSE contract are best delivered through that contract or whether some should be taken in-house by NHS England, and to consider the operational readiness of each service before agreeing to the implementation of any further transformation change.

Optical Confederation Chair Fiona Anderson said: “As the NAO points out, value for money is not just about cost reduction. Yet these poorly managed changes have been driven by the desire for savings, not the need to improve primary care services. The report highlights that the optical payments service is still unreliable. Indeed, once again this month payments due are being delayed to hard working practitioners struggling to provide essential and sight saving NHS care.

“It is only to be hoped that the Public Accounts Committee will pick this up to ensure that lessons are learned, that the sector will be listened to this time, and that we can now work jointly to deliver the much-needed modernisation of the GOS system, with properly agreed plans, timescales and support for the NHS front-line.
“NHS England, Capita and more importantly patients cannot afford another fiasco on this scale.”

The service provided by Capita has been disruptive for all primary care professions. Dentists, for example, have also experienced significant delays in getting an NHS performer number.
Henrik Overgaard-Nielsen, the British Dental Association’s Chair of General Dental Prac-tice, said: “NHS England needs to take ownership over the grotesque mismanagement at Capita. Hundreds of NHS dentists have been unable to provide care for patients – or support their families – because officials were fixated on quick savings.

“There can be no excuses, and no buck passing. NHS England laid off a professional in-house team, and set the terms and the targets for Capita’s tenure. Today primary care professionals across Eng-land are still smarting because of their reckless and wholly unnecessary choices.”

England Vision Strategy Conference 2018 first report.

May 2018

Another invigorating day was attended by over 100 delegates at the England Vision Strategy Conference.

It was again an opportunity for a broad cross section of the vision primary teams to meet and swap stories out of the “silos” we often find ourselves working in day to day.

There are too few chances to share stories about our roles in the preservation of good vision, how to assist and care for those whose sight becomes impaired and work outside our normal roles within a community setting.

Most of us count ourselves as community opticians and for that brief time with our patients throughout the examination and the dispensing provide a Gold Service Standard. But days like today bring home the telling truth that few of us think about strategies to encourage the public to understand why they must have a sight examination regularly and for those we cannot provide with adequate vision, how much interaction and advice do we add to the mix both to the visually impaired and their family and carers?

Too often the patient’s journey is truncated into bite size portions, from our role to secondary care and then when necessary through to the social services with little or no interaction between the stops along the way.

It is meetings such as the EVS conference, with the help of Vision UK and many subsidiary charity groups large and small fighting for better vision in the UK that one can stand back and see the whole process.

If we all as professionals just expanded our role to be more empathetic to the visually impaired and we actively engaged with sensory champions and understood the provision available or not for them in our local community, we could really make a difference.

Matt Broom the incoming CEO of Vision UK expressed it eloquently by explaining what actions as a team we all need to push for.

Four parts of the equation that will help build a powerful case for better intervention in eye care are:

Getting the case in order with epidemiology and statistics.
Understanding prevention, treatment and cures
Getting the message out there to adults, children, young adults and families.
Making sure that everyone understands what new technology is available and where to go for help and advise for inclusivity and access to work.

OC provides access to Electronic download of Voucher Values for 2018

May 2018

Although there are no changes to Voucher Values OC recognises that a fresh copy maybe required by practices.

You can download your copy here.

GOC calls this week for ‘sector-wide action on clinical experience for optical students’.

May 2018

Gareth Hadley, Chair of the General Optical Council (GOC), is today calling upon educators, employers and professional bodies in the optical sector to work together to facilitate solutions to achieving enhanced clinical experience for student optometrists and dispensing opticians.

His call follows the publication of a GOC report analysing responses to its concepts and principles consultation as part of its Education Strategic Review.

82 per cent of consultation responses agreed with the concept of embedding clinical experience from the start of training. Respondents also highlighted a range of benefits from enhanced clinical experience for students, predominantly linked to improvements in patient safety and quality of care. These included the opportunity for students to link theoretical knowledge with working in practice and to better develop their clinical and communication skills.

Some respondents also presented a number of challenges around the practical application of this concept, particularly those associated with providing access to enough varied external clinical placements, ensuring students receive appropriate supervision and delivering a good quality experience to all students.

Gareth Hadley, said: “It is clear that the sector recognises the likely benefits of enhanced clinical experience in education programmes, for patient care and the quality of clinical practice, and we acknowledge the various concerns raised by stakeholders regarding how this would be realised in practice.

“However, our role as the professional regulator is to put patients first. The optical sector has an obligation to find workable solutions to these practical challenges. It is in no one’s interests – patients, optical businesses and other employers, students or educators – to limit the opportunity for more competent and confident practice.

“We believe that earlier, more varied and frequent clinical experience for students can help further build professional confidence, effective communication skills and professionalism. I call on educators, employers and professional bodies in the sector to come together now with us to start creating solutions to this issue and in doing so, to draw on what works well at the moment and learn from other professions who have moved in this direction already.”

The call follows the publication of a new GOC report analysing responses to its concepts and principles consultation and asked educators, employers and professional bodies to work together to enhance the clinical experience for student optoms and DOs.

David Hewlett, for FODO, said: "The GOC is pushing at an open door. We are already putting this into practice by looking for innovative ways to support existing programmes and through our encouragement of and direct involvement with emerging courses.”

Still more GOS fee delays.

May 2018

Further delayed GOS Payments May 2018 are reported by OC

PCSE have informed the Optical Confederation and LOCSU there has been a delay in processing some GOS payments this month.

Contractors and LOCs in the affected areas should receive an email from the PCSE National Engagement Team informing them of the delay and explaining that PCSE are aiming to ensure payments reach bank accounts within three working days of the usual payment dates. As soon as PCSE have processed payments for an affected area, contractors will receive a further email to confirm when the funds will be in the bank.

The Optical Confederation and LOCSU have raised our deepest concerns with NHS England about PCSE’s failure to make payments on time again and are awaiting a full explanation of the cause this time.

The organisations had been assured in recent meetings with PCSE’s Managing Director and NHS England senior managers that lessons had been learnt from the March payment delays and that PCSE had put additional staff in place to ensure payments were made on time. Clearly the steps taken have once again not been sufficient to ensure on time payments this month, so we need urgent assurance that further appropriate action is being taken by PCSE to guarantee future payments are made on time.

News from General Optical Council May 2018

May 2018

GOC to consult on future of optical education and training

Council agreed to consult with stakeholders on changes to both pre-qualification education and Continuing Education and Training (CET) to ensure that current practitioners and the practitioners of tomorrow are equipped for the future roles that will be required to meet the needs of patients.

A part of the Education Strategic Review (ESR), the GOC consulted recently on the concepts and principles that should underpin the system of education and training which prepares students to join the GOC register. The next step will be to consult on new standards for education providers that promote enhanced clinical experience and provide greater freedom to innovate; new learning outcomes for students that reflect the full range of skills and knowledge required to be an optical professional; and on how the GOC should move to a more outcomes-focused approach to accrediting and quality assuring education programmes.

The GOC will also be seeking views on the timetable for moving to the new system, with the possibility of some early adopter institutions starting in September 2019, with others following a year later.

The consultation will also consider changes to CET to promote continuing professional development by enabling practitioners to tailor their training to their particular scope of practice, while continuing to ensure they are safe to practise.

The GOC will also be seeking views on how to move to this new approach. The intention is to implement changes from January 2020, which means that at the end of the current CET cycle (2016-18) there would be a single CET transition year, rather than a full three year cycle.

Alistair Bridge, GOC Director of Strategy, said, “We know from our stakeholders how the optical sector and the roles of optometrists and dispensing opticians are changing. And we recognise how important it is for education and training to keep pace with these changes and for us to support students and practitioners in preparing for and developing their careers.

“There has been strong support among stakeholders for the direction we are taking. We are now ready to test some firm proposals with stakeholders and look forward to hearing people’s views on both the changes we are proposing and how to implement them effectively”.

The consultation on the future of education will from June to July. Final consultations on both CET and the ESR will follow from October to December.

Non-EEA Registration

Council approved a new registration process for optometrists outside of the European Economic Area (non-EEA) which will take effect on 4 June 2018.

The new process will involve matching the applicants’ skills and knowledge against the GOC’s stage 1 and 2 competencies, an interview with an expert registrant assessor, further academic training if required, and then require completion of the Scheme for Registration operated by the College of Optometrists. An additional fee of £200 will also be introduced for applicants that progress to the interview stage.

The new process is consistent with the UK requirements for registration and will ensure that the public is protected.

Other news

Council provisionally approved a BSc (Hons) Optometry programme (subject to conditions being met) at the University of West England, to commence in September 2018.

AOP Awards 2019 launch with two new categories.

May 2018

The Association of Optometrists (AOP) has opened nominations for the AOP Awards 2019 which, for the first-time, feature two categories dedicated to locum optometrists and to optical practices incorporating audiology services.

Commenting on the new categories, Henrietta Alderman, AOP Chief Executive, said: “Optics is changing, and our new accolades reflect the diversity and dedication of those at the forefront. We know that locum optometrists play a vital role in providing flexible, high-quality patient care and we want to recognise that. Equally, many practices are increasingly going above and beyond to provide primary care services in their community, our Audiology Practice of the Year Award is about celebrating that commitment.”

Locum of the Year, sponsored by Johnson and Johnson Vision, and Audiology Practice of the Year, sponsored by Optos, will join the Association’s existing categories, including Health and Wellbeing Practice of the Year, which was added in 2018, and Members’ choice awards, Product of the Year and Frame of the Year. Ms Alderman encouraged nominations from across the sector, saying: “With 14 categories open for nomination, there really is something for everyone.”

Reflecting the AOP Award’s growing popularity, which in 2018 received over 30,000 votes, the 2019 Awards will also see another first. Online voting specialists Mi-Voice have been selected to manage both the nominations and voting process.

Alongside the categories opening for nomination in May, the 2019 Awards will see the return of the Lifetime Achievement Award, which is chosen by the AOP Chief Executive and Chair.

Heather McKeown, Practice Manager for Sinead McGurk Opticians, winner of the AOP Awards 2018 Practice of the Year, described winning an AOP Award as “truly special”, saying: “To be recognise for doing what you love doing every day is just great.”

The AOP Awards 2019 will take place alongside leading education and trade show, 100% Optical, on Sunday 13 January 2019. To find out more, or to nominate, visit the AOP Awards pages.

AOP announces new Council members.

May 2018

The Association of Optometrists (AOP) is delighted to announce the new members of its Council, following the election and appointment process in April 2018. The Councillors will begin their three-year term of office on 6 June.

This year, geographical positions were contested in Scotland, South East England, South West England, West Midlands and Yorkshire and the Humber.

Councillors were elected unopposed in East Midlands, East of England, London, North East England, North West England, Northern Ireland and Wales.

The AOP also received applications from undergraduate students, pre-registration optometrists and newly-qualified optometrists for three appointed, designated posts.

Henrietta Alderman, AOP Chief Executive, said: “Highly deserved congratulations are in order for our re-elected and newly-elected Council members, who’ve already made a significant contribution to the profession – proving their dedication and passion in striving for optometry. Some interesting challenges and opportunities lie ahead, and I’m very much looking forward to working with these individuals on the key issues facing optics in the coming years.”

Ms Alderman continued: “I’d like to thank all of those who have been part of the election process this year – with particular thanks to all those who put themselves forward for these important roles including designated positions, which received an unprecedented amount of applications. I also extend my gratitude to our outgoing Councillors for all their hard work.”

Newly-elected AOP Council members

Newly-elected Councillors representing geographical constituencies across the UK

Emma Spofforth /East of England
Tushar Majithia /East Midlands
Gordon Ilett /London
Jane Ranns /North East England
Martin Sweeney /North West England
Valarie Jerome /South East England
Ed Bickerstaffe /South West England
Francesca Marchetti /West Midlands
Stewart Mitchell /Yorkshire and the Humber
Julie-Anne Little /Northern Ireland
Eilidh Martin/Scotland
Kevin Wallace /Scotland
Nadeen Joseph /Wales

Newly-elected appointed, designated positions

Shivani Rughani /Newly-qualified Optometrist
Ali Yasen /Pre-registration Optometrist
Shoaib Ilyas /Undergraduate Student Optometrist

AOP members can contact their Councillors through the Association’s online community forums.

Call for Abstracts for Academy 2018 San Antonio Scientific Program.

April 2018

The Scientific Program Committee of the American Academy of Optometry invites the submission of abstracts for Academy 2018 San Antonio, to be held Wednesday, November 7 through Saturday, November 10. The Academy's Scientific Program offers scientists, educators, and clinicians the opportunity to exchange the latest information in optometry and vision science in two formats, research paper presentations and scientific posters.

“The annual meeting of the Academy is a great forum to showcase your recent scientific and clinical findings in optometry and vision science, and we encourage authors to submit abstracts for both oral and poster presentations,” says Suresh Viswanathan, MS, PhD, FAAO, Chair of the Scientific Program Committee.

The abstract submission window will be open from May 1 through May 31, 2018. This year, the Scientific Program Committee will present focused sessions on special topics that will include extended discussion, integration of clinical topics, and debate on current controversies. As a new feature this year, images can be uploaded along with abstracts (1 MB limit).

The Scientific Program Committee will consider all presentations including those from students and residents. Abstracts will be judged on the following criteria:

• Adherence to submission guidelines

• Scientific or clinical novelty

• Methodologically sound

• Quantitative description of the results

• Conclusions that are substantiated by the results

• Submissions of previously published copyrighted material (e.g. ARVO abstracts or journal articles) will not be accepted.

First authors (excluding students and residents) of accepted papers/posters are also eligible to register for Academy 2018 San Antonio at reduced rates. To read more about the submission guidelines or to submit an abstract, visit here

New standard processes for second pair and non-tolerance voucher applications.

April 2018

A standard process for submitting applications for second pair and non-tolerance vouchers has been launched by NHS England to take effect immediately. As advised by LOCSU.

From now on, all applications for second pair and non-tolerance vouchers must be sent to your NHS England Regional Local Team (RLT) using the standard national templates.

Guidance documents and the templates to be used are set out below:

Guidance on applying for a second pair voucher

Second pair voucher application form

Guidance on applying for a non-tolerance voucher

Non-tolerance voucher application form

Any second pair and non-tolerance applications received by PCSE from 1 May 2018 will be returned to the contractor with the advice that they need to be submitted direct to the RLT.

AOP launches sector-wide optical workforce survey

April 2018

The Association of Optometrists (AOP) has commissioned a sector-wide survey, designed to gain an understanding of career aspirations of optometrists and the experiences of employers.

The AOP will use results from Optometrists' futures: A survey of recruitment, retention and career aspirations of the optometric workforce to inform discussions with employers, public bodies, education providers and other optical bodies – supporting the interests of the wider profession as well as improving services for AOP members specifically.

Chief Executive of the AOP, Henrietta Alderman, said: “We know that one of the biggest issues facing employers in optics, whether independent or multiple, is the recruitment and retention of staff. We also know that the knowledge within the sector about the optometric workforce does not offer any conclusive answers on what motivates practitioners or what factors could change the decisions they make about their careers. We’re therefore keen to hear from optometrists, at all levels and from all backgrounds, to build a picture that is both comprehensive and representative. With that insight we can provide support that is tailored and responsive to the emerging optical landscape.”

The survey, launching on 18 April to AOP members and non-members, is being conducted by independent, not-for-profit research organisation, the Institute of Employment Studies (IES) who will solely manage and analyse the data results.

AOP members will receive an email, from IES, on 18 April containing a unique link to complete the survey. Non-members can access the survey here.

Clive Marchant Inaugurated as New ABDO President.

April 2018

Clive Marchmont
Dispensing Optician Clive Marchant was inaugurated as the new ABDO President in a ceremony at the ABDO Optrafair Dinner in Birmingham on the 15th of April.

Clive, who is also a contact lens optician and director of the Colin Lee group of practices, says, “I'm delighted to take over the ABDO Presidency from Fiona Anderson who has done a fantastic job during her term of office. I now look forward to working with Jo Holmes in her new role as Vice President and the rest of the ABDO board and staff, supporting and enhancing the role of Dispensing Opticians.”

Focussing on highlights for the coming year, he says, “This year we will see the first cohort of contact lens opticians accredited to provide MECS service. This is the first of several initiatives to involve dispensing opticians within the expanding range of enhanced services. We have record numbers of students studying at all levels from level 2 optical assistant to our degree programs and specialised qualifications.

Demand for training has identified the need for our National Resource Centre which will be in the heart of Birmingham and will become the home for ABDO examinations. Opening this summer, it will be a centre of excellence to be used for the benefit of our members along with all the optical profession and our industry partners. We look forward to welcoming all to the centre very soon.”

Special awards were also presented at the gala dinner with the Medal of Excellence going to Richard Crook and the Hamblin Memorial Prize to Keith Cavaye.

Clinical Council for Eye Health Commissioning publishes new SAFE framework for eye health.

April 2018

On Tuesday, The Clinical Council for Eye Health Commissioning (CCEHC), which represents the leading clinical professions and sight loss charity organisations in the eye-care sector, and whose members include the Optical Confederation, launched a new Systems and Assurance Framework for Eye-health (SAFE)1.

The framework is aimed at those involved in eye health and sight loss services: Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) and local authority commissioners, Local Eye Health Networks and providers across health and social care.

SAFE aims to provide a sustainable, consistent and coordinated approach to delivering efficient eye health amid increasing demands on eye health services due to the ageing population, capacity issues within the hospital eye service, as well as pressures on general practice and social care.

Eye-health conditions covered in the framework are the main adult chronic (Glaucoma and Age-related Macular Degeneration) and high-volume conditions (Cataract), but can be applied to any eye condition.

For more information on the framework, click here.

GOS Payments – further delays announced by FODO

April 2108

NHS Digital has experienced technical issues with the Open Exeter IT system this month, which has unfortunately caused a delay in PCSE being able to process some GOS claims this month.

As a result, Contractors in the areas listed below will receive payment into their bank accounts on 17 April, two working days later than expected.

Derby County (5N6); Derby City; (5N7) Dudley (5PE); Central & Eastern Cheshire (5NP); Western Cheshire (5NN); and Warrington (5J2)

If you do operate in any of the above areas and have further problems, please don’t hesitate to let FODO know via, or call 020 7298 5151.

High level Education Strategic Review consultation responses show support for new education approach

April 2018

The GOC has recently published some high level findings from its Education Strategic Review concepts and principles consultation.

The high level summary publication shows 97 per cent of respondents agreed with the development of new education standards for optometrists and dispensing opticians. 82 per cent agreed with embedding clinical experience progressively from the start of education programmes.

Stakeholders also showed support for the GOC further informing its education requirements with its Standards for Practice for Optometrists and Dispensing Opticians, with 84 per cent in favour of embedding professionalism into education and training programmes.

GOC Chief Executive and Registrar, Vicky McDermott said: “We are delighted to have received many supportive responses to the consultation that will enable us to work at pace to develop our detailed proposals to equip future professionals with the skills, knowledge and behaviours needed to practise safely and competently in a changing sector.

“We will make concerted progress in the coming months to transform these concepts into workable approaches for the future.”

The GOC’s Education Strategic Review concepts and principles consultation ran from December 2017 to March 2018, comprised 21 questions and sought feedback on 11 concepts and principles. A total of 36 responses were received to the consultation, 26 from organisations and 10 from individuals.

The GOC has also commissioned a full independent analysis of the consultation feedback and will publish this separately.

To read the high level findings summary please visit here:

The Fee freeze continues for a third year running

April 2018

D o H Freezes GOS Fees for a third year!

The Government has told the OFNC that it is freezing GOS fees for the third year running – despite strong evidence for an increase, and at a time when more generous settlements are being offered to NHS staff and contractors.

OFNC have been offered small increases (1%) on CET fees and grants for pre-registration optometrists.

The response has been one of deep frustration and anger by OFNC on behalf of the profession.

Trevor Warburton, OFNC chair, said that “This continued freeze on fees is completely unacceptable and a real blow. There is no way the profession could sign up to such a position on fees and this is not a `negotiated settlement’. This means that, once again, the Department has imposed a real-terms cut on this key public service.”

He added “The profession and GOS providers will be bitterly disappointed, especially when seen against more positive settlements being announced elsewhere and the powerful arguments made by OFNC in support of an increase, including the additional cost burdens on providers. The costs of operating community optical practices have increased every bit as much as for other primary care contractors.”

OFNC secretary Ann Blackmore added: “OFNC have stressed the urgent need for the Department and NHS England to find funding for IT connectivity in the coming year. The short-sighted rejection of previous bids and lack of risk assessment means that patients’ eyesight is at risk from the withdrawal of fax machines for urgent referrals. NHS Mail will be a temporary fix but the NHS drive to be paperless means the problem will return in spades unless there is investment in the optical sector.”

The Optometric Fees Negotiating Committee (OFNC) is the community eye health equivalent of the BMA’s and BDA’s General Practice Committees and community pharmacist’s pharmaceutical services negotiating committee (PSNC). It is the recognised negotiating body for fees for the professions. Its members include the ABDO, the AOP, the BMA, and FODO.

The current membership of OFNC is Trevor Warburton (Optometrist, AOP – Chair OFNC), Henrietta Alderman (AOP CEO), Richard Edwards (Optometrist, FODO), Claire Slade (Optometrist, FODO), Gordon Ilett (AOP), Ian White (Optometrist AOP), Simon Longstaff (OMP BMA), Kim Fowler (BMA), Professor Nagasumbramanian (OMP BMA), Sir Anthony Garrett (CEO ABDO), David Hewlett (CEO FODO). Secretary: Ann Blackmore (FODO).

The OFNC is always grateful to receive comments, advice and perspectives from Optical Confederation members and can be contacted via

Papers relating to the 2017-18 fees negotiations round are available here

College of Optometrists appoints new Lead Assessor for the Scheme for Registration

April 2018

Sophie HarperThe College of Optometrists has appointed hospital optometrist, Sophie Harper FCOptom DipTP(IP), as Lead Assessor for the Scheme for Registration, following the retirement of current College Lead Assessor, Ruth Brough, who served in the role for over 12 years.

Sophie has been a Scheme for Registration supervisor and College examiner for many years and is an experienced assessor in the North West. As Lead Assessor, she will oversee the delivery and quality assurance of the work-based assessment element of the Scheme for Registration.

She will work with the College’s Deputy Lead Assessor and senior assessors to provide guidance, advice and training to support the UK-wide team of College assessors. She will also help develop our assessment processes and respond to any future changes to the way in which optometrists are trained.

Speaking about the appointment, Jackie Martin, Director of Education at the College said: “We are so pleased that Sophie will be joining our team. This is a key role in enabling the College to deliver the Scheme for Registration and helping us to shape the future of assessment for trainee optometrists. As well as being an experienced hospital optometrist, Sophie has been a supervisor and she will continue as a College assessor. Her involvement and vital insight in the running of the Scheme for Registration will help us to ensure that we continue to deliver the high standard of assessment the Scheme is renowned for. I also want to recognise the invaluable role that Ruth Brough has played in developing and introducing the Scheme for Registration, and in all of her endeavours for the College and we wish her all the best for her retirement.

Speaking about her new role, Sophie said: "I really look forward to taking on the role of Lead Assessor in the Scheme for Registration and becoming part of the excellent and hard-working education team at the College. The Scheme for Registration has developed significantly since its inception over 10 years ago. Now I will ensure I offer robust leadership for assessment, by working with a national team of assessors and meeting the new challenges within the changing face of optometry.”

Sophie will start her role at the College in July 2018.

2018 Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) Student Travel Fellowship Recipients Announced

April 2018

The American Academy of Optometry is pleased to congratulate the recipients of the 2018 Student Travel Fellowship Awards.

The travel fellowships will allow six students to present their research at the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) 2018 annual meeting. The 2018 recipients and their respective schools follow.

Supported by Johnson and Johnson, The Vision Care Institute, LLC:

• Jessica Jasien, University of Alabama Birmingham, School of Optometry

• Daisy Shu, BOptom(Hons)/BSci, University of New South Wales, School of Optometry and Vision Science

• Laura Pardon, OD, MS, FAAO, University of Houston, College of Optometry

• Katie Bales, University of Alabama Birmingham, School of Optometry

• Hannah Burfield, University of Houston, College of Optometry

Supported by the American Academy of Optometry:

• Billie Beckwith-Cohen, DVM, MBA, FAAO, University of California Berkeley, School of Optometry

The American Academy of Optometry administers travel fellowships in order to encourage optometry students, optometric residents, and students in eye and vision related graduate programs to attend key national meetings and exchange scientific ideas on research.

Fellowships are awarded primarily for accomplishment and potential in optometric research and education and are evaluated by the American Academy of Optometry’s Research Committee.

Applications for student travel fellowships for the Academy’s annual meeting, Academy 2018 San Antonio, will be available in July 2018.

Trading Standards have challenged the way we display and sell frames.

April 2018

Spectacle sales from display, are they "display only" or are the ones tried on going to be the ones bought?

Trading Standards have challenged whether patients buying spectacle frames are generally aware that the display frames they try on are the frames that they are actually purchasing and which will be glazed for them. This briefing prepared by OC provides practical advice on steps that practices can take to manage the risk of any inadvertent breach of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.

In the cases of clothing and non-prescription sunglasses, it is immediately obvious to the consumer that the garment or sunglasses they try on is what they will purchase. Although the same principle applies to prescription spectacle frames – indeed more so as the frames have to be measured and fitted before glazing – Trading Standards have queried whether patients in general know that the frame they try on from display will be the actual frame that they will purchase once glazed. Whilst this may seem obvious to those of us working in the sector, customers may not always be aware of it.

Trading Standards have raised concerns that sales of display frames in these circumstances may breach the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 (‘the Regulations’). Legal advice obtained by the Optical Confederation confirms that if a practice doesn’t explain the position to consumers, there is a genuine risk that a customer complaint about this to a local Trading Standards Officer could result in a criminal prosecution and conviction for breach of the Regulations. This would, in turn, be reportable to the GOC and the NHS. We have therefore provided this guidance to help your practice meet the requirements of the Regulations.

OC advice

We recommend that all practices which sell frames from display should review the information they currently provide to customers. The following practical steps will reduce the risk of breaching the Regulations, and we recommend that as a minimum, practices should take steps (a), (b), and (c) below if they do not already do so:

a. Display a sufficiently prominent notice(s) to the effect that ‘Frames on display may be those sold’.
b. Where a frame is being sold from display, check that customers are fully happy and explain that these will be the frames which will be sent away to have lenses fitted in line with the measurements taken.
c. If you see any defects or issues with display frames being purchased, point these out to the customer and note that you have done so and any action agreed. d. If practical, provide an information slip or wording on the customer order form that the frames the customer has tried on are the ones they are purchasing.

These steps will enable you to show the customer has been given sufficient information to be fully aware of the circumstances of the sale. They also provide an opportunity to explain to customers that they are receiving a bespoke item which is tailored to their requirements.

You can download the whole advice here

Universal Credit – Updated OC guidance, March 2018

April 2018

Last week, the Optical Confederation updated its guidance on Universal Credit.

Led by FODO, this update replaces guidance originally issued in February 2016 and sets out what you should do when a patient claims an NHS sight-test and / or voucher on the grounds that they are in receipt on Universal Credit.

Full roll-out of Universal Credit is not expected to be completed until March 2022. In the meantime, we will of course be keeping an attentive eye on any developments affecting the sector and will keep you updated.

To access the guidance, click here.


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