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


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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

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.


Optrafair 2019
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