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Opchat Magazine Professional Matters PagesProfessional Matters News, April to June 2019


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The College of Optometrists conducts third report on Scheme for Registration
GOC erases Durham based optometrist
Average wait for public cataract surgery is 29 months – Optometrists survey
New chief medical officer appointed
Professor Deborah Bowman MBE appointed to GOC Council
Regulators unite to support reflective practitioners across healthcare
NHS commissioners continue to ignore cataract surgery evidence
GOC welcomes ASA ruling on iSpyEyes
ABDO issues a paper on Myopia for its members
GOS claims service transfers to Leeds
FODO holds AGM and gains two new Directors
Call for Abstracts for Paper and Poster Presentations for Academy 2019 Orlando and 3rd World Congress of Optometry Scientific Program
AOP announces New Council Members
The ABDO’s England Regional Team met at the National Resource Centre
AOP listening service clocks up over 6500 minutes
Urgent Action Required to comply with GOS Contract
GOC encourages eligible optical businesses to register
The Business Case for Low Vision
GOC registrants demonstrate their continued fitness to practise
Transforming Ophthalmology - NHS England Open Webinar
New ABDO Clinical Lead
GOC, Standards for Optical Businesses, FODO replies
Open letter – IT connectivity for primary optical care to:
GOC publishes new Standards for Optical Businesses this week
FODO reports plenty of interest at Optrafair 2019
Archived News from the last quarter on Professional Matters January to March 2019

The College of Optometrists conducts third report on Scheme for Registration

June 2019

The College of Optometrists has published its third report analysing pre-registration trainees’ performance on the Scheme for Registration (SfR). The report is based on demographic and performance data of a single cohort of 620 pre-registration trainees who enrolled on the College’s SfR between 1 June 2015 and 31 May 2016. The data was drawn in April 2017. Analysis of the 2013-2015 and 2014–2016 cohorts have been published previously.

This report provides detailed comparative information of trainee performance related to several factors and also lists common areas of failure at each stage of the Scheme. Generally, performance among trainees remains consistent. Key data from the report are listed below:

• As in both of the previous reports, there continues to be a correlation between undergraduate performance and performance on the Scheme; i.e. the higher the degree classification, the less likely the trainee is to require additional visits or resits at any stage of the Scheme. For example, 50% of those trainees with a first class degree required no additional visits or resits in contrast to 16% of trainees with a 2:2
• The first-time pass rate for the Final Assessment OSCE is 79%; slightly higher than the previous year (78%). The number of those struggling at the OSCE stage remains low (4%) and has shown a slight decrease since the previous report (6%)
• 53% of trainees passed Stage 2 first time. This identifies Stage 2 as the stage at which trainees struggle most. 84% of trainees in this cohort passed Stage 2 by their second attempt. This was an increase from 82% the previous year. 20% of candidates needed just a single resit at Stage 2 and no additional visits or resits at any other stage of the Scheme
• Female optometrists in this cohort outnumbered their male counterparts by 67% to 33%, similar figures to the previous report. Female students performed better than male trainees, with 5% more males than females defined as struggling (one of three gradings used, the others being best and standard). This is a substantial decrease from 11% in the previous cohort (2014-2016). However, this figure was 7% for the cohort in 2013-2015, suggesting that 2014-2016 was a particularly wide gap
• As in the previous report, the findings 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. The main differences from the previous year’s report include an increase in placements in the Southeast of England (from 7 to 11%) and a slight decrease in placements in the Northwest (from 12 to 10%)
• Larger multiple practices continue to provide the vast majority (88%) of pre-registration training placements for this cohort. This is an increase of 3% from the 2014-2015 report.

Alastair Shaw, Head of Assessment for The College of Optometrists said; “Having collated a third analysis of this Scheme, we can see emerging trends and patterns in performance for those undertaking it. We developed this report to provide useful information for trainees, supervisors, universities and employers. However, we would caution that further statistical analysis is needed to understand the patterns that are developing fully. The report continues to identify Stage 2 as an area of difficulty for trainees. This highlights the important difference between the formative assessment process at Stage 1 and the synoptic, summative assessment, bringing together lots of different skills, at Stage 2. We are, once again, satisfied that the Scheme is doing its job in terms of setting and maintaining the highest standards for the profession.”

The report can be read in full on the College’s website.

GOC erases Durham based optometrist

June 2019

The General Optical Council (GOC), the UK regulator for optometrists and dispensing opticians, has decided to erase Bryan Ainley, an optometrist based in Durham, from its register. He will now be unable to practise as an optometrist in the UK.

A GOC Fitness to Practise Committee found his fitness to practise impaired by reason of misconduct relating to the Registrant’s failure to adequately assess patients and maintain an adequate standard of record keeping.

In making the decision, the Committee chair stated:

“The Committee determined that the Registrant’s conduct, whether by wilful neglect, or recklessness, was far below that of a reasonably competent optometrist. The Committee was satisfied that a finding of misconduct is justified in this case, given that the Registrant’s inability to conduct basic optometric testing means that a safe eye test may not be possible.

“The Committee considered that a finding of current impairment on the grounds of public protection and the public interest is necessary, given the absence of any remediation and given that the Committee has found there is a risk of repetition of the misconduct.

“The failure to provide an acceptable level of patient care, (including both clinical failures and record keeping for many years), without remediation, leaves the Committee with no confidence that the Registrant has the potential to develop insight into his failures and learn from them. Accordingly, the only appropriate and proportionate sanction is one of erasure.”

Mr Ainley has until 15 July 2019 to appeal his erasure, during which time he is suspended from the register under an immediate suspension order.

Average wait for public cataract surgery is 29 months – Optometrists survey in Ireland

June 2019

Five year wait for Cataract Surgery in South West

Call for new national scheme for children’s eye-care

The average wait for cataract surgery across the country is 29 months – and up to five years in some parts of the country – according to a survey of eye services carried out by Optometrists.

The nationwide annual survey of members carried out by the Association of Optometrists Ireland (AOI) found that the longest wait for public cataract surgery was across Cork county, particularly West Cork at 60 months.

The shortest delay was in the constituency of Sligo and Leitrim (14 months), where an award-winning scheme is in place involving greater co-working between Optometrists and the hospital eye department.

The second annual AOI survey broke down responses per constituency and found in contrast the average wait for private cataract surgery, for those who can afford to pay, was just three months.

The average wait for public cataract surgery nationally increased by one month since last year’s AOI survey.

Increase reported in patients going to Northern Ireland for Eye-care

Optometrists in every constituency reported that were witnessing patients availing of the Cross Border Directive for Cataract Surgery, with 74% reporting an increase in patients travelling to Northern Ireland over the past 12 months.

The survey of hundreds of practising Optometrists and also asked about children’s eye-care, where major variations in local services were identified.

There was an average wait of 14 months for public eye-care for under twelves, ranging significantly from more than two years (25 months) in Wexford to just three months in Tipperary.

62% of respondents said that their local HSE Office / Clinic did not have arrangements for them to provide a eye examination to children aged 8-12 if discharged from the HSE service while 27% did, and 11% were not clear on the local arrangement in their area.

37% said that their local HSE Office would not authorise Optometrists to examine children aged 12-16 who have a medical card, while 53% said the HSE would authorise it. 10% were not clear on the local protocol.

AOI President Patricia Dunphy said the survey showed the urgent need for the Minister for Health to intervene and affect an overhaul of eye-care services.

“The core priorities are to roll out the award winning Sligo Cataract Scheme nationwide with Optometrists and hospital eye departments working more closely together. And secondly to roll out a national scheme to allow children up to age 16, who do not need medical or surgical management, to be examined in the community when necessary by Optometrists.

“The cause of our massive and worsening waiting times is an over-reliance on public eye clinics and hospital Ophthalmology departments to provide even the most basic care.

“Optometrists can provide routine eye examinations, glasses fitting, pre and post-surgery check-ups in the community. Only more complex cases need be referred to clinics or hospitals. This is the model in operation across the UK and Europe and the one Ireland needs,” she said.

The eye-care capacity crisis is also reflected in the latest National Treatment Purchase Fund waiting list figures which show that there were 42,700 patients on the Ophthalmology outpatient waiting list at the end of April 2019, an 5% increase in the first four months of 2019 alone. There were 9,000 of the inpatient list for Ophthalmology at the end of April, the third largest of any medical speciality.

AOI CEO Seán McCave said it is time that “we stopped tolerating these terrible delays and took action”.

He stressed that there are 650 trained Optometrists working in 350 locations across the country who could meet the clinical requirements.

“There are also many other areas of eye-care where Optometry can help such as red eye management, glaucoma and AMD. Furthermore, prescribing rights should be brought into line with the UK which would take some of the pressure off of GPs.

“AOI has estimated that in excess of €30m could be saved while at the same time delivering an accessible and clinically effective service. That is because it is 50% less expensive to provide care in the community than in hospital, and eliminating waiting times would lead to earlier detection and treatment.

“In Scotland Optometrists are utilised as the front line for public eye-care and they do not have waiting list problems. AOI is calling on the HSE, under the leadership of the Minister for Health Simon Harris, to reform Irish eye-care and better serve the interest of patients.”

Information on the survey findings can be found at

New chief medical officer appointed

June 2019

Prof. Chris WhittyThe Cabinet Secretary has announced Chris Whitty as the new Chief Medical Officer for England and the UK government’s Chief Medical Adviser.

The appointment has been made with the support of the Prime Minister, and follows an external recruitment competition.

Professor Whitty is currently Chief Scientific Adviser for the Department of Health and Social Care.

He has overall responsibility for the department’s research and development, including the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and life science strategy.

He is also the Professor of Public and International Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, a practising NHS Consultant Physician in acute medicine and infectious diseases at University College London Hospitals, and Gresham Professor of Physic.

He will replace Professor Dame Sally Davies, the current Chief Medical Officer, when she takes up a new role as master of Trinity College Cambridge in October 2019.

Professor Whitty will continue to lead the NIHR for the foreseeable future.

Professor Chris Whitty said:

"It is a huge honour to be given the opportunity as Chief Medical Officer for England to be able to support colleagues in public health, the NHS and social care around the country to improve the health of the nation.
I look forward to working within DHSC and across Whitehall to support the government in leading the nation’s health and care."

Sir Chris Wormald, Permanent Secretary at DHSC, said:
"I am delighted that Chris Whitty has been appointed as the Chief Medical Officer for England.
He is doing an excellent job as Chief Scientific Adviser and will bring to his new role a wealth of relevant experience from his previous roles in public health, most recently as Professor of Public and International Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and as an NHS consultant.
I look forward to working with him in his new role."

Health and Social Care Secretary, Matt Hancock, said:
"Professor Chris Whitty will make an excellent Chief Medical Officer, bringing his extensive clinical experience and a passion for keeping the nation healthy.
I can think of no better person to lead the fight against infectious diseases, public health threats, and lead the medical profession to continue keeping us as healthy as possible."

Professor Deborah Bowman MBE appointed to GOC Council

June 2019

Deborah Bowman has been appointed as the newest lay member of the General Optical Council (GOC) as of 1 September 2019 for a period of four years.

Deborah will replace Selina Ullah, whose term finishes on 31 August 2019.

Deborah is Professor of Bioethics & Clinical Ethics and Deputy Principal (Institutional Affairs) at St. George's, University of London. Her academic interests include the application of ethics to policy, clinical practice and healthcare regulation.

She currently serves as a lay member on the GOC Standards Committee, although she will have to stand down on appointment as a Council member. Previously, she served as chair for the General Medical Council’s review of its Consent Guidance, as a Non-executive Director of St George’s and South West London Mental Health Trust, as a member of the London Police Ethics Panel for the Mayor’s Office and Metropolitan Police and as a Governor of Morden Primary School.

Deborah is a broadcaster and regular commentator in the media, particularly for BBC radio; most recently writing and presenting Patient Undone and a fourth series of Test Case for BBC Radio 4. She was the Editor-in-Chief of the BMJ journal of Medical Humanities for four years. In 2016, she was awarded an MBE for Services to Medical Ethics.

GOC Chair Gareth Hadley said, “I am pleased to welcome Deborah to the Council. Her high level of expertise in professional standards and ethics will be extremely valuable as we continue our work of ensuring public protection in the optical sector. I look forward to working with her as the GOC progresses key strategic projects, including the Education Strategic Review (ESR) and Continuing Education and Training (CET) review.

“I thank Selina for her time and dedication as a lay Council member. Selina brought a wealth of experience to the role and made many valuable contributions to the GOC during her time as a Council member. I know she will continue to achieve great things and I wish her all the best in her future endeavours.”

Regulators unite to support reflective practitioners across healthcare

June 2019

The leaders of nine healthcare regulators have joined forces to stress the benefits and importance of good reflection among professionals in the healthcare sector.

The chief executives have signed a joint statement – Benefits of becoming a reflective practitioner – which outlines the processes and advantages of being a good reflective practitioner for individuals and teams.

Reflection is the process whereby healthcare professionals assess their professional experiences – both positive and where improvements may be needed – recording and documenting insight to aid their learning and identify opportunities to improve.
Reflection allows an individual to continually improve the quality of care they provide and gives multi-disciplinary teams the opportunity to reflect and discuss openly and honestly.

The statement makes clear that teams should be encouraged to make time for reflection, as a way of aiding development, improving wellbeing and deepening professional commitment.

Chief executives of nine regulators – the General Chiropractic Council, General Dental Council, General Medical Council, General Optical Council, General Osteopathic Council, General Pharmaceutical Council, Health and Care Professions Council, the Nursing and Midwifery Council and the Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland – have all signed the statement.

It states that reflection plays an important role in healthcare work, and brings benefits to patients, by:

• Fostering improvements in practices and services;
• Assuring the public that health and care professionals are continuously learning and seeking to improve.

The statement reinforces that reflection is a key element of development and educational requirements and, in some professions, for revalidation as well. It also makes clear that patient confidentiality is vital, and that registrants will never be asked by regulators to provide their personal reflective notes to investigate a concern about them.

Guidance is given on how to get the most out of reflection, including having a systematic and structured approach with proactive and willing participants. It makes clear that any experience, positive or negative and however small – perhaps a conversation with a colleague – can generate meaningful insight and learning. Multi-disciplinary and professional team reflection is viewed as an excellent way to develop ideas and improve practice.

The statement also reinforces the regulators’ continued commitments to reflection across their own organisations, and highlights the pivotal role it plays in changing and improving their work.

Marcus Dye, GOC Head of Standards and CET, said: “Reflective practice allows registrants to consider their experiences to gain insights about how they can improve the way they work and the care they provide to patients. We offer a number of tools, including a personal development plan and templates for reflection statements to make it easier for registrants to participate.

“We encourage all registrants to take part in reflective practice as part of their CET requirements and to try to embed reflection into their everyday practice. Following feedback from our CET consultation last year, we will be developing more guidance for registrants on how they can incorporate reflective practice within their CET.”

NHS commissioners continue to ignore cataract surgery evidence says FODO

June 2019

The British Medical Journal (BMJ) reported this week that NHS commissioners in England have continued to ignore the NICE evidence-based guideline on cataract surgery.

The BMJ article notes that NHS commissioners in England continue to rely on non-evidence-based methods to ration access to cataract surgery, including the use of visual acuity thresholds and other prior approval processes which are not consistent with best practice. The article reports that over 22% of patients in England who need cataract surgery are now subject to additional screening prior to being approved for safe and cost-effective cataract surgery.

Graham Jackson, co-chair of NHS Clinical Commissioners, said “Cataract surgery specifically is an area that is often subject to prior approval. Such clinical decisions are critical in deciding when a patient has reached the stage that an operation will be the best option. Performing surgery is not without risk; a clinical threshold is a good way of defining which patients would best be served by (in this case) cataract removal.”

FODO's Harjit Sandhu said: “NHS Clinical Commissioners suggests that this is about evidence and effectiveness. That is simply not the case, the evidence does not change based on where you live. Commissioners are simply selling local people short”.

Mr Sandhu added “there is a fundamental difference between making difficult choices and making things up. Commissioners might find backdoor rationing easier than transforming services, but the public should not stand for it. We all want the NHS to make every pound count and that is why we need to transform eye care services in England so that patients can access sustainable and high quality services based on clinical need. There is an urgent need to shift more care into community based settings so that we can release capacity and savings, which can then be reinvested into very cost-effective procedures like cataract surgery.”

Read the BMJ findings here.

GOC welcomes ASA ruling on iSpyEyes

June 2019

The General Optical Council (GOC) has today welcomed the Advertising Standards Authority’s (ASA) ruling that iSpyEyes should remove adverts incorrectly implying that they could legally supply zero-powered (cosmetic) contacts lenses to the UK without the involvement of a registered optician.

The GOC helped the ASA in investigating the case and the ASA ruling states that they, “Told iSpyEyes and Marnie Simpson not to encourage an unsafe practice or to imply that they could legally sell zero powered contact lenses in the UK.” The full ASA ruling is at here.

By law, zero-powered contact lenses can only be sold in the UK by or under the supervision of a registered medical practitioner, a registered optometrist or a registered dispensing optician. Although the website in question was based in the British Virgin Islands, the ASA considered that the adverts were directed at UK customers.

Dionne Spence, GOC Director of Casework and Resolutions, said: “Cosmetic contact lenses can be popular for fashion and fancy dress, particularly at times such as Halloween. However customers who buy and wear them without getting professional advice are risking damage to their eyes.

“We are glad that the ASA have taken action against these adverts. We helped them on the case and we are currently exploring further ways of working with the ASA to help tackle illegal online sales. It is vital that we work with partner organisations in respect of illegal sales and we also continue to work with Trading Standards and the optical professional bodies.”

For advice on how to buy contact lenses safely, including zero-powered lenses, consumers can visit

ABDO issues a paper on Myopia for its members

June 2019

The Association of British Dispensing Opticians (ABDO)’s National Clinical Committee (NCC) has issued a position paper for members on myopia, its treatment, and recommendations for advice to patients.

The position paper, the role of Dispensing Opticians & Contact Lens Opticians in Myopia Management , will be of interest to all eye care practitioners.

ABDO Vice President Jo Holmes is Chair of the NCC. She says, “Myopia is a growing issue, and dispensing opticians are well placed to address patient concerns and those of parents too. The aim of this paper is to set out a snap shot of current research and inform members about how they can guide patients who have or are at risk of myopia.”

The paper can be found in the Policy and Regulation section of the new ABDO website

GOS claims service transfers to Leeds

May 2019

Primary Care Support England (PCSE) has now transferred the processing of GOS payments from Clacton to Leeds as planned. PSCE has notified all affected contractors about the change.

Contractors should notice no difference in the level of service but all email, postal and telephone contact should now be directed via the online enquiry system. You can do this by contacting PCSE’s Customer Support Centre direct:

• enquiries relating to ophthalmic payments can be submitted via the online form here
• telephone: 0333 014 2884 (opening hours 08.00-17.00, Monday-Friday)
• post: Primary Care Support England, PO Box 350, Darlington, DL1 9QN

If you wish to courier your documents then you should use the following address: Capita Intelligent Communications, Building 17: Units 2 & 6, Lingfield Point, McMullen Road, Darlington, DL1 1RW.

To learn more about how the new digital ophthalmic payments system will work, you can find out more here

FODO holds AGM and gains two new Directors

May 2019

The FODO AGM took place on 14 May at 199 Gloucester Terrace. Addressing the meeting, FODO chair Lynda Oliver explained that FODO was committed to standing up for eye health and ensuring that eye health services were protected and enhanced during the next phase of NHS reforms. She emphasised that the ‘spirit of co-operation’ between all the optical bodies and through the Optical Confederation was vital if the sector was to protect patient care through the ‘choppy waters’ for the next stage of reforms in England and ongoing austerity in all UK countries. “FODO is committed to working with all stakeholders who share our goal of high quality and accessible care for all” she added.

The FODO AGM elected three directors to the FODO Board. Adrian Street (Norville Opticians), who was retiring by rotation, was re-elected as lead director for SME businesses, John Hopcroft (Boots Opticians) and Jose Forte (Specsavers) were both elected for the first time. The FODO Articles of Association were also updated.

FODO MD Harjit Sandhu said it was “now vital for FODO to refocus on protecting and advancing eye care so that individuals can access the sight saving care and vision correction they need whatever their age and wherever they live in the UK or Ireland. Our new directors and articles are all part of that crucial refocus.”

Call for Abstracts for Paper and Poster Presentations for Academy 2019 Orlando and 3rd World Congress of Optometry Scientific Program

May 2019

The Scientific Program Committee invites the submission of abstracts for Academy 2019 Orlando and 3rd World Congress of Optometry, to be held Wednesday, October 23 through Sunday, October 27. The Scientific Program offers researchers, 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 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 Academy Scientific Program Committee.

“The World Congress of Optometry is held every 2 years allowing optometrists, educators, researchers, students, public health experts, and others from around the world to share their knowledge, network, learn, and understand the global needs for eye care. Authors from around the world are encouraged to submit abstracts for poster and/or paper presentations,” states Bina Patel, OD, FAAO, Chair of the World Council of Optometry Scientific Program Committee.

The abstract submission window will be open from May 1 through May 31, 2019. This year, the Scientific Program Committee will organize multiple focused paper and poster sessions on special topics that will offer attendees an opportunity to engage in lively discussions and debates.

The Scientific Program Committee will consider all presentations including those from students and residents. Submissions of previously published copyrighted material (e.g. ARVO abstracts or journal articles) will not be accepted. Abstracts will be judged on the following criteria:

Research Abstracts
• Level of scientific or clinical novelty
• Methodological soundness
• Quantitative description of results
• Statistical analysis for significance of results
• Support of conclusions by results
• Adherence to submission instructions and ethical standards
• Language and grammar

Case Reports
• Level of clinical novelty
• Completeness of case work-up to support proposed diagnosis
• Sufficient author involvement in the examination, diagnosis and/or management of the case
• Adherence to submission instructions and ethical standards
• Language and grammar

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

AOP announces New Council Members

May 2019

The Association of Optometrists (AOP) is pleased to announce its new designated Council members, following the appointment process in March 2019.
Representing a range of practice types and career stages, the designated Councillors allow a diverse range of voices to be heard at the Association.

Returning dispensing optician representative, James Dawson, who has already served one three-year term, said: “I am looking forward to continuing to ensure that the voice of DOs is heard at Council. We are in a transition period where careful discussion and collaboration is needed for the industry as a whole, especially with potential GOC-enforced changes to mode of practice and education."

Henrietta Alderman, AOP Chief Executive, said: “I’d like to warmly welcome our new and re-elected Councillors, who play a vital role in informing our policy making and helping to shape the future of the profession. With exciting projects and opportunities ahead, we’re very much looking forward to working closely with our Councillors on the key issues facing optics.”

Ms Alderman continued: “I would also like to offer my thanks to our current and departing Councillors for all their hard work during their terms.”

This year, the AOP asked members to put themselves forward for six designated AOP Council positions: Undergraduate Optometry Student, Pre-registration Optometrist, Newly-qualified Optometrist, Early Career Optometrist, Dispensing Optician and Franchisee/Joint Venture Partner. These positions sit alongside the Council’s elected regional representatives and designated Councillors representing university lecturers and hospital optometrists, who are selected internally.

The appointed Councillors will begin their terms of office on 12 June 2019. The undergraduate optometry student representative and the pre-registration representative will serve a one-year-term, while the other positions serve three-year terms.

Newly-elected appointed, designated positions:

Councillor Constituency

Luke McRoy-Jones Undergraduate Optometry Student
Shoaib Ilyas Pre-registration Optometrist
Josie Evans Newly-qualified Optometrist
Sana Asif Early Career Optometrist
James Dawson Dispensing Optician
Jonathan Bennett Franchisee/Joint Venture Partner

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

For more information about the 2019 appointments and the role of Councillors visit the AOP website,

The Association of British Dispensing Optician’s England Regional Team met at the National Resource Centre, this week [May 7th}.

May 2019

Along with members of the ABDO Board and staff, the Regional Leads for England were accompanied by Local Leads to discuss on-going and future activity within NHS England relating to eyecare services.

Key stakeholders including NHS England, PCSE, LOCSU, SGHD and the General Optical Council presented in the afternoon session which was well received by the group.

Commenting on the meeting, ABDO Deputy Chief Executive Barry Duncan said, ’Since the formation of the ABDO Regions much progress has been made to promote and enhance the role of dispensing opticians. However further effort and commitment from all those involved is necessary to take us to the level we wish to be at. Having so many committed members willing to offer their time to ensure we reach the next level is truly fantastic and much appreciated. It is testament to their professionalism and passion for being a dispensing optician that we have made the steps we have in such a short space of time’.

He went on to say, ‘We are extremely grateful to all those who presented in the afternoon session, providing in depth informative presentations. We hope that we can build relationships with all parties and will do everything we can to ensure dispensing opticians are integral to activity moving forward.”

AOP listening service clocks up over 6500 minutes

April 2019

The Association of Optometrists (AOP) Peer Support Line is marking its two-year anniversary this week, with the Association revealing that volunteers have taken a total of 321 calls, and provided 6673 minutes of listening time, since the initiative launched on 3 May 2017.

The Peer Support Line was created to meet needs identified in the AOP’s 2016 health and wellbeing research. It is open to anyone who feels they are struggling, or simply having a bad day, and would like to talk confidentially. A support line volunteer explained: “No problem is too big or too small – if it concerns you then we want to listen… We sometimes signpost callers to the AOP legal or employment services for advice, and then spend the rest of the call, which is as long as they want, empathising with their situation. For many callers this is so valuable, just talking to someone who understands.”

“Nobody is going to judge or criticise you. We are open-minded and ready to listen, so you have nothing to lose,” she added.

The listening service is open to individuals at any point in their optical career. On average 81% of calls are from optometrists, 10% from newly-qualified optometrists and 9% from undergraduate students and pre-reg optometrists. April and October are historically the busiest months.

Henrietta Alderman, Chief Executive of the AOP, took the opportunity to thank the volunteers who make the service possible. “The Peer Support Line is a testament to the dedication of our volunteers who give up their time to make sure the service runs 365 days a year. We know that simply voicing concerns to an understanding peer can often bring a sense of release to callers. Our volunteers, who come from the optical sector themselves and who understand the pressures of day-to-day practice, are an amazing comfort to so many,” she said.

To celebrate the Peer Support Line’s anniversary, qualified AOP members will receive an information sticker in their May edition of Optometry Today. Practitioners can share share their placement of the sticker using #AnEarForAnOptic.

The Peer Support Line can be reached by calling, 0800 870 8401. Calls will be answered 24 hours a day, by an external answering service, with volunteers on duty to return calls between 8am and 8pm.

Urgent Action Required to comply with GOS Contract

April 2019

To keep your responsibilities to your NHS England Contract current you will need to update your GOS procedures notation and understand the requirements.

Your GOS, contract with NHS England Local Direct Commissioning Office (DCO) Team (formerly known as the Area Team) is essential for continued GOS practice functions.

These changes are effective from April 2019

Some of the major changes are:

A patient can complain directly to the DCO, if they wish

You must record all the complaints that you receive about GOS services, domiciliary sight-testing and locally commissioned community service NHS services which you provide

You must record the remedial actions taken and the lessons learned

You must report annually to the DCO the number and nature of all the complaints received and the important actions taken.

Read the full information provide by the Optical Confederation here

GOC encourages eligible optical businesses to register

April 2019

The General Optical Council (GOC) is today encouraging eligible optical businesses to get GOC registered.

Limited companies operating as optical businesses which use protected titles such as optometrist or optician, must register with the GOC by law. However, the GOC urge all eligible optical businesses for which business registration is not mandatory to register their business to take advantage of the benefits registration affords.

Alistair Bridge, GOC Director of Strategy, said “One of the most significant advantages of registering is greater trust from patients. Independent research showed that 84 per cent of patients interviewed said they would rather ‘use an optical business that meets a certain set of standards, than one that does not’.

“Business registration can also enhance trust from optical professionals because it gives them confidence that their employer operates to the same high professional standards as they do. Additionally, it could give NHS commissioners more confidence about the high standards of the sector as optical professionals take on more clinically complex work.

“Currently thousands of UK optical businesses are registered with the GOC, from small independents to large well-known national chains. But we’re encouraging all those who are unregistered to do so and enjoy the benefits of extra trust.”

GOC registered businesses are able to display their registration to their patients by downloading an ‘I’m registered’ logo from MyGOC, personalised with their business’ GOC number.

The GOC is currently pursuing legislative reform to ensure that all businesses carrying out restricted functions are required to register with the GOC. This would create a more level playing field for all optical businesses and give both patients and practitioners assurance that all businesses are regulated.

To find out more about business registration visit:

The Business Case for Low Vision

April 2019

When you’re in business, it’s often tempting to think only in the majority, dismissing those who may not fit into the ‘most people’ bracket as too expensive to cater for, and therefore affecting vital profit margins. Assumptions abound. People with low vision will have assistants and you will give a cheerful smile, apologise, and do your best to help.

The title is one of the latest of an extensive list of Clinical Briefings provided by Visualisetraining on helping and delaing with those with sight challenges in practice.

Click here to review a list and download a free training pack.

GOC registrants demonstrate their continued fitness to practise

April 2019

New figures released by the General Optical Council (GOC) today show that the vast majority of optical practitioners have maintained their commitment to their profession by meeting their Continuing Education Training (CET) requirements.

The GOC removed 392 individual practitioners from its register for failing to meet their CET requirements – less than 2% of registrants.

Marcus Dye, GOC Head of Standards and CET, said: “I would like to congratulate all registrants who met their 2016 –18 CET requirements and applied for renewal on time. As the optical professions change rapidly, it is more vital than ever that optical practitioners keep their skills and knowledge up to date, so they can continue to deliver high standards of care to their patients.”

40 optometrists and 58 dispensing opticians failed to renew their registration by the 31 March 2019 deadline and have been removed from the register. It is now illegal for them to continue practising in the UK.

Yeslin Gearty, GOC Head of Registration, said “A very small number of registrants failed to renew by the deadline and have therefore left themselves unable to practise in the UK and will also be removed from the NHS Practitioners List. I would urge any practitioner, who wishes to restore to the register to start the restoration process as quickly as possible.”

Any individual or business registrant who has been removed from the register, but wishes to continue practising or carrying on business, must restore to the register immediately. Applicants must complete the restoration form and pay the restoration fee of £70. Individual practitioners must also provide evidence of having met the necessary CET requirements in the past 12 months.

Restoration guidance for students, practitioners and bodies corporate can be found on the GOC website :

Transforming Ophthalmology - NHS England Open Webinar

April 2019

NHS England’s Elective Care Transformation Programme (ECTP) has set up EyesWise a project to encourage new ways of working by eye services, primarily through the ECTP’s High Impact Interventions for Ophthalmology.

NHS England is running an introductory webinar for all-comers on Wednesday 24 April 2019 (13:00-14:30).

This is a must for anyone interested in NHS England’s approach to transforming ophthalmology in England.

If you are interested in joining the webinars, there is no requirement to pre-register. For those who cannot FODO’s Harjit Sandhu and David Hewlett will be dialling in, and recordings and supporting slides will be uploaded to the EyesWise Hub.

Further information and dates for existing registered users about future webinars are here. If you have not registered for free as yet click here

New ABDO Clinical Lead

April 2019

Max Halford has been announced as the new Clinical Lead at the Association of British Dispensing Opticians ABDO). Max brings a wealth of experience to the role and will commence work activity in shortly after Easter.

His role will be to identify opportunities to promote and enhance the role of dispensing opticians in both community and secondary care settings.

Speaking about his new role Max said, “I am absolutely delighted to have accepted the Clinical Lead position for ABDO and look forward to working closely with Barry Duncan, Deputy Chief Executive, Debbie McGill, Policy and Public Affairs Officer and the wider ABDO team. The profession has much to focus on and I will be relentless in promoting the role that opticians have to play in the primary care delivery of services to our patients. I am joining a team committed to furthering our skills, qualifications and professionalism, and it is now up to us to create the opportunities and support the workforce to deliver the highest standards of patient care going forward.”

Commenting on the appointment ABDO Deputy Chief Executive Barry Duncan said, “We were impressed by the passion and commitment to drive the profession forward along with the obvious skills and experience Max possesses. He will be a real asset to ABDO and provide us with wise council and expertise in both the clinical and political landscape.”

GOC, Standards for Optical Businesses, FODO replies

April 2019

The General Optical Council (GOC) has published new standards for business registrants which come into effect on 1 October 2019. They replace the previous Code of Conduct for Business Registrants.See Original story.

FODO welcomes the new standards because they are proportionate, pragmatic and sensible, and good for patients, good for businesses and good for practitioners. The GOC also recognises that “they largely reflect what is good practice already”.

FODO also strongly supports the GOC in seeking an extension of its powers to require all optical businesses carrying out restricted functions to be registered and comply with these standards. This will not only ensure protection and safety of patients but also a level playing field for practices.

FODO has worked hard with the GOC to ensure the new standards are fit for purpose and will be able to be applied proportionately to businesses and practices of all sizes. We very much welcome feedback on the Standards.

Open letter – IT connectivity for primary optical care to:

April 2019

Simon Stevens, Chief Executive and Matthew Swindells, National Director: Operations and Information

From Optical Confederation

We are writing to you urgently on behalf of the representative bodies for the community optical sector.

Our members are one of the pillars of NHS primary care, delivering 13 million sight tests and many other NHS services in the community every year. They also have the potential to provide much more NHS care in primary settings in future. That is a key aim of the Long Term Plan, and would relieve the growing pressure on hospital eye services, the largest out-patient specialism by volume in the country. However, we are concerned and frustrated that it is being needlessly jeopardised by ongoing delays in providing IT connectivity between optical practices and the rest of the NHS.

As you will know, last year the All-Party Parliamentary Group on eye health recommended that NHS England and NHS Digital should “urgently implement IT connectivity between community optometry and the wider NHS to improve patient care and efficiency”, as part of its inquiry into eye clinic capacity problems. This relatively simple change is long overdue.

Many optical practices still rely on faxes to hospitals, or letters to overstretched GPs, to refer patients into secondary care – in stark contrast to the vision of a high-tech NHS set out by the Secretary of State.

IT connectivity would also open the way for better two-way communication between primary and secondary providers, enabling more integrated care and the delivery of more services in convenient and cost-effective community locations. As you will know, connectivity is key to delivering NHS England’s Transforming Elective Care programme for ophthalmology and the forthcoming Getting It Right First Time report.

In the last two years, NHS England has twice identified potential primary care budget underspends of up to £10m, which we were led to believe would be used to fund optical connectivity. However, both times this opportunity fell away because the funds could not be used in the very limited time available. At a recent quarterly update meeting with NHS England and DHSC officials, officials told us they now believe it will cost only £750,000 to connect up every NHS optical contractor in England, using NHS Digital’s preferred “internet first” FIDO2 connectivity option. However, we were alarmed to be told that further progress in implementing this solution depends on identifying another underspend later this year.

This long-awaited project will offer benefits many times its cost – both in terms of immediate patient care, and the longer-term scope to deliver key elements of the Long Term Plan.

However, the benefits clearly will not materialise if NHS England continues to rely on finding budget underspends which cannot be used in the time available. We therefore ask you to prioritise the relatively small amount of expenditure now required for IT connectivity between optical practices and the rest of the NHS from current budgets in 2019/20, to avoid the need to rely on an end-of-year underspend which may not allow enough time for implementation. This would ensure that the benefits for patients can start to be realised so that the optical sector can finally realise its full potential in helping the NHS meet the growing demand for eye healthcare in England.

We will be publishing this open letter and sending a copy to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, given his public commitment to overcoming obstacles to IT modernisation in all areas of the NHS.

Yours sincerely

Sir Anthony Garrett CBE
General Secretary, ABDO

Henrietta Alderman
Chief Executive, AOP

Harjit Sandhu
Managing Director, FODO

Richard Whittington
Chief Operating Officer, LOCSU

CC: Rt Hon. Matt Hancock MP, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care

GOC publishes new Standards for Optical Businesses this week

April 2019

This week the GOC has published its new Standards for Optical Businesses, which will come into effect on 1 October 2019.

Marcus Dye, Head of Standards and CET, said, “The new Standards will replace the current Code of Conduct for Businesses and set out our expectations of business registrants more clearly. They have been updated to maintain consistency with the Standards of Practice for Optometrists and Dispensing Opticians and will ensure patient safety in a fast-changing landscape faced with new technology, an ageing population and expanding scopes of practice.”

The final standards have been revised following extensive analysis of the feedback received during the consultation. The GOC received 351 unique responses to the consultation as well as holding a series of focus groups with patients and registrants and a number of meetings with professional bodies and employers.

The draft standards were broadly supported across a wide range of stakeholders, with many respondents reporting that the draft proposals reflected ‘what businesses do anyway’. However, the GOC made some changes to reflect stakeholder feedback, most notably to ensure that the standards are proportionate and reflect the right balance of professional responsibilities between businesses and the staff that work for them. The GOC also made changes to ensure the Standards are flexible enough to be applied across all four nations of the UK.

Marcus added, “We encourage all businesses to comply with the Standards regardless of whether they currently have to register with us because they represent good practice. Nonetheless we continue to push for legislative reform to require all businesses carrying out restricted functions to register with us. This would create a level playing field for all businesses and as the professions move into more clinical areas, it is becoming increasingly important that regulation is in place to ensure all businesses are registered.”

The new Standards for Optical Businesses are on the GOC website here

FODO reports plenty of interest at Optrafair 2019

April 2019

Over 300 people visited the FODO stand at this year’s Optrafair to learn more about FODO membership, seek advice and enter our prize draw. You can now also access their new membership benefits guide here.

Visitors to their stand took part in our prize draw for a chance to win copies of ‘Kanski Clinical Ophthalmology’ and ‘The Wills Eye Manual’, as well as a pair of ‘Sony Noise Cancelling Headphones’ sponsored by the National Community Hearing Association. The prize winners will be announced later this week.

Next year Optrafair will take place at the NEC, Birmingham, 4 to 6 April 2020, so save the date and visit us for great CET.


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