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Opchat Magazine Professional Matters PagesProfessional Matters News, July to September 2020


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GOS Scotland Announcement on GOS Scotland procedures
GOC suspends Bromley based dispensing optician
Following the increased measures on face masks The College, backed by ABDO and FODO make recommendations
Go live date for the new paper GOS forms
GOC suspends Huddersfield based optometrist
Paskal 3d simulates night driving vision
The GOC have published a statement on the service of registration notices during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The College has modified and continues to adapt its Pandemic Guidance
General Optical Council (GOC) statement on use of technology during COVID-19 emergency
Scotland issues plans for testing in Residential and Care Homes from today (7th Sept)
OFNC UPDATE: Mounting concern over delays in Covid-19 Funding Information by Optical Practices in England
ABDO Announces Board Election Results
Domiciliary eyecare begins in Northern Ireland for those in their own homes
Access to free PPE for GOS contractors and how to make NHS mail applications
GOC seeks new Chair after February 2021
RCOphth is preparing eyecare services for a potential COVID-19 second wave
English practitioners are reminded that the CET claim window now open
At last, PPE Portal for England opens to GOS contractors
ABDO's considered views on the GOC ESR Consultation
GOC erases Scarborough based dispensing optician
OFNC July 31 UPDATE: COVID-19 Funding for Optical Practices in England
GOC launches ESR consultation on updated education and training requirements
NHS encourages online registration and advises on change in GOS forms by October 1
With under 24 hours notice Government excludes the mandatory use of masks in Optical Practices.
News from The General Optical Council
OFNC UPDATE: COVID-19 Funding for Optical Practices in England
CET claims – England, The How and The When.
PSA rejects allegations about GOC
Scotland – new PCA for expanded services
Membership Organisations and Colleges combine to release Workforce Risk Assessment
OFNC UPDATE: COVID-19 FUNDING for Optical Practices in England
College provides advice on COVID-19: Preparing for local lockdowns
OFNC Update: NHS Funding for Optical Practices across England and in local lockdowns
AOP response to petition
AIO gets clarity from the GOC on what services practices could offer in lockdown
AIO meets with GOC Registrar to discuss The GOC's position on routine testing during the Lockdown by practices from March 23rd.
Archived Professional Matters April to June 2020

GOS Scotland Announcement on GOS Scotland procedures

October 2020

The Directorate of Primary Care has re-confirmed that GOS(S)1 ‘cheque book’ slips do not need to be completed while the current suspension of patient and patient representative signatures remains in effect due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The announcement follows clarification from NHS Counter Fraud Services and applies to both face to face and remote consultations. So, you can discard any GOS(S)1 ‘cheque book’ slips that you have retained for eye examinations undertaken after 20 March 2020 (when the suspension of signatures was first announced in PCA(O)2020(4)).In March this year.

Practitioners are also advised that they do not need to retain the relevant paper form regarding a GOS(S)3 or GOS(S)4 optical voucher payment claim via eOphthalmic.

In line with College of Optometrists guidance, practitioners must ensure that the patient’s record contains the date of the eye examination. It recommends that the nature of the consultation should also be recorded i.e. face to face or remote.

GOC suspends Bromley based dispensing optician

September 2020

The General Optical Council (GOC), the UK regulator for optometrists and dispensing opticians, has decided to suspend Tracy Dermott, a dispensing optician based in Bromley, from its register for three months.

A GOC Fitness to Practise Committee found her fitness to practise impaired by reason of a misconduct, caution and conviction.

This is in relation to her receiving a caution for common assault and a conviction for drink driving, and her failure to declare the conviction when applying to retain registration.

Ms Tracy Dermott had until 23 September 2020 to appeal her suspension.

Following the increased measures on face masks The College, backed by ABDO and FODO make recommendations

September 2020

The question being asked is:

Do staff who work behind a screen or who are more than 2m from patients have to wear a face covering?

Although optometric practices were not specifically mentioned in the announcement on 22 September that all staff in hospitality and retail now have to wear face coverings, the College recommends that all staff wear a fluid resistant surgical mask to protect their patients, colleagues, and themselves.

This applies even if they are working behind a screen. The recommendation applies in all four UK nations.

Further advice on Practitioners at work proving positive for Covid-19

As optical practices are now seeing more patients face-to-face and underlying infection rate numbers rise, it is possible that more optical staff will find they have developed symptoms of Covid-19 at work and will prove positive on being tested.

NHS England has advised that, where a member of NHS staff tests positive for coronavirus, the starting point is that the Test and Trace self-isolation rules apply as anywhere else.

Close contacts must self-isolate if the NHS test and trace service advises them to do so.

However, close contacts for the isolating practitioner exclude circumstances where PPE is being worn under current guidance on infection, prevention and control – read the NHS England letter.

In other circumstances, i.e. where a member of staff has come into contact outside work with someone who has subsequently tested positive for coronavirus, NHS staff are subject to the same test and trace protocols as all other members of the public. If a healthcare professional or another member of the team is contacted by the Test and Trace service and advised to self-isolate for 14 days, they must do so.

Money Matters Following the Chancellors Statement:

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak has announced new financial measures to help preserve employment and to support UK businesses – the Winter Economy Plan. The key elements are:

Job Support Scheme

From 1 November, a new Job Support Scheme will be introduced for six months to protect viable jobs in businesses facing lower demand and to help retain the workforce. Employers will continue to pay the wages of staff for the hours they work – but for hours not done. The government and the employer will each pay one-third of their equivalent salary. This means employees who can only go back to work on shorter time will still be paid for two-thirds of those hours they cannot work. In practical terms, the employer will pay for one-third of the lost hours, the government will pay one third, and the employee will lose one third.

Employees must be working at least 33% of their usual hours. The level of grant will be based on their regular salary, capped at £697.92 per month.

The Job Support Scheme will be open to all businesses across the UK even if they have not previously used the furlough scheme. Further guidance will be published in due course.

Large businesses will have to meet a financial assessment test, so the scheme is only available to those whose turnover is lower now than before experiencing difficulties from Covid-19. There will be no financial assessment test for small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

The Job Support Scheme sits alongside the Jobs Retention Bonus, potentially worth over 60% of the average wages of workers who employers put on furlough and kept on until the start of February 2021.

Businesses can benefit from both schemes to help protect jobs.

Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) grant

The government is also extending SEISS. It will provide an initial taxable grant to those who are currently eligible for SEISS and are continuing to trade actively but face reduced demand due to coronavirus.

The initial lump sum will cover three months’ worth of profits for the period from November to the end of January 2021. It will be worth 20% of average monthly profits, up to a total of £1,875.

An additional second grant, which may be adjusted to respond to changing circumstances, will be available for self-employed individuals to cover the period from February 2021 to end April 2021.

Tax cuts and deferrals

The VAT deferral New Payment Scheme will give businesses that deferred their VAT bills the option to pay back in smaller instalments. Rather than paying a lump sum in full at the end of March 2021, businesses will be able to make 11 smaller interest-free payments during the 2021-22 financial year.

Self-assessment taxpayers can benefit from a separate additional 12-month extension from HMRC on the ‘Time to Pay’ self-service facility. This means they will not need to pay payments deferred from July 2020, and those due in January 2021 until January 2022.

Flexibility for businesses to pay back loans

Businesses that took out a Bounce Back Loan will have the flexibility to repay the loan through a new Pay as You Grow flexible repayment system. This includes extending the length of the loan from six to ten years, which will cut monthly repayments by nearly half. Interest-only periods of up to six months and payment holidays will also be available.

The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme lenders can also extend the length of loans from a maximum of six to ten years if it helps businesses to repay the loan.

Applications for the government’s coronavirus loan schemes – the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme, the Bounce Back Loan Scheme and the Future Fund– can now be made until the end of November.

Go live date for the new paper GOS forms

September 2020

As many practices are in the middle of transitioning to the new online GOS claims system, to help make roll outs as smooth as possible, PCSE has moved the date for the introduction of new paper forms to 1 November.

This means the current paper forms remain in use until Saturday 31 October.

You will receive a contingency pack of the new style paper forms in the next few weeks.

These forms will also be available to order through PCSE Online from 12 October.

If you have not yet switched to online claims please note that these new forms are mandatory for use for all your GOS claims from 1 November 2020.

GOC suspends Huddersfield based optometrist

September 2020

The General Optical Council (GOC), the UK regulator for optometrists and dispensing opticians, has decided to suspend Husnal Murtza, an optometrist based in Huddersfield, from its register for three months.

A GOC Fitness to Practise Committee found his fitness to practise impaired by reason of misconduct.

This is in relation to inappropriately and dishonestly presenting incorrect records as evidence during his assessment whilst he was training as a student optometrist.

Mr Murtza had until 17 September 2020 to appeal his suspension.

Paskal 3d simulates night driving vision

September 2020

The end of British Summer Time on 25th October is set to throw thousands of motorists into darker driving conditions and many turning to their optometrist for help.

Pascal Night Driving Test
Simulating night time driving to prescribe the very best vision correction is now a reality with PASKAL 3D’s patented stereoscopic vision testing.

Using 3D cinema technology PASKAL 3D simulates real driving conditions via the COM VA (visual acuity) module with full refraction when driving in good light, at dusk and at night.

“Controlled by an iPad, to a 32” 3D enabled TV screen, it is a flowing eye test during which we can provide a full assessment of vision and we believe it guarantees the best possible refraction results.

Patients who think they need to give up driving at night suddenly realise that with the right glasses they can continue on the road. It is fantastic endorsement of the practice, and something patients are going to tell their friends about,” said Carlton Plaatjes, Head of IPRO UK, the manufacturers of PASKAL 3D.

The PASKAL 3D COM VA test, which takes around 15 minutes, starts in bright light and then the natural simulation of driving progresses through dusk to darkness. A cyclist and a pedestrian are used as test objects. The eyes adapt to the changing light conditions, enabling the practitioner to prescribe suitable lenses for these very real conditions.

“The red/white/green Duochrome test can be used to check whether twilight ametropia is present. If, for example, -0.25 is determined, the COM VA Twilight Auto test is used to find the appropriate VA level or whether the visual acuity increases,” added Carlton.

“After the twilight test, the optometrist can check whether the adaptation status for night vision is achieved, again using the cyclist as the test object. It is not only the light that plays a role, but also the cyclist and corresponding dark adaptation. Testing red/green will determine whether there is a refraction error. If this is the case, the number plate mode of the Night Auto test comes into play. It really is very comprehensive as the last test, COM VA Night Pedestrian Visibility aspect, shows an oncoming car in the perspective of a pedestrian.”

PASKAL 3D Com Visus VA combines monocular refraction with stereoscopic vision, to create an exciting eye examination and is the latest addition to the PASKAL 3D portfolio which has now been used to complete more than 5m eye examinations globally.

“This is a fast, accurate, way to get results. It is also very innovative and a real talking point amongst patients who enjoy the experience of a test using PASKAL 3D,” added Carlton.

The GOC have published a statement on the service of registration notices during the COVID-19 pandemic.

September 2020

General Optical Council (GOC) statement on service of registration notices during the COVID-19 emergency

In this statement the GOC set out how they will serve notices under the GOC Registration Rules 2005 (‘Rules’) during the COVID-19 emergency.

In taking the steps set out below, we are putting our overarching objective under section 2A of the Opticians Act 1989 (“the Act”) – the protection of the public – at the forefront of our efforts to continue maintaining our functions during this challenging period.

Service of registration notices

Rules 19-20 create requirements in respect of the service on registrants of notices relating to entry to, and removal from, the GOC's Register. Section 23A of the Act requires these notices to be served by delivery to the individual personally, by being left at the person’s address, by registered post or by recorded delivery.

We (The GOC) are mindful that, during the COVID-19 emergency, there might be delays or difficulties in registrants and applicants receiving notices that are sent by recorded delivery, registered post, courier or personal service.

Accordingly, in order to continue to be able to maintain our registration function and our overarching objective to protect the public, we have (with one exception) moved to a process of serving all notices and other communications electronically. The exception is notice of Registrar’s decision to remove a registrant’s name, which we will serve by recorded delivery as well as email.

Service is to the email address that the registrant has provided to us for the purpose of communication.

We therefore ask all registrants to ensure that their contact details are up to date on their MyGOC account.

With the exception of removal decisions, electronic service will apply to all communications relating to our registration function, and will include (but will not be limited to) the following:
notice of Registrar refusing registration or restoration; notice of fully qualified or business registrant’s failure to apply for renewal; notice of student registrant’s failure to apply for renewal; or notice of Registrar’s decision to remove a registrant’s specialty.

When sending notice of the Registrar’s refusal to allow registration or restoration, or notice of the Registrar’s decision to remove a registrant’s specialty, we will ask the recipient to confirm receipt within seven days.

The GOC will follow up (by email, telephone and/or post) if confirmation is not received. If an applicant is having particular difficulty in receiving emails, we will consider advance requests to send a specific communication by hard copy.

The GOC will keep this statement under review and the next routine review is due: not later than 31 October 2020.

The College has modified and continues to adapt its Pandemic Guidance

September 2020

Further modifications to its Pandemic Guidance have been made by the College of Optometrists and is available to read here.

The guidance whilst brought up to date has also been made clearer and more streamlined.

The College has also revisited the designations of Red, Amber and Green phases of the pandemic.

September 11th 7 Day Rolling infection rate


The numbers, greatest growth in infections, since April and climbing now seem certain to portray a very difficult late autumn.

General Optical Council (GOC) statement on use of technology during COVID-19 emergency

September 2020

1. In these extraordinary times, we are fortunate that in all four countries of the United Kingdom we have a group of exceptionally well qualified eye care professionals on whom the general public and fellow healthcare professionals can rely. Uncertain times mean that our registrants may be called upon to work at the limits of their scope of practice and vary their practice for protracted periods of time and in challenging circumstances.

2. In this statement we hope to reassure our registrants that when they act in good conscience, for the public benefit, exercising professional judgement in all of the circumstances that apply, the GOC will support them.

3. Along with all other healthcare regulators, the GOC has signed a joint regulatory statement which acknowledges that registrants will need to act differently and deliver care in different ways during the COVID-19 emergency in line with Government and public health guidance. The GOC will take account of this in fulfilling its regulatory functions along with the following statement in response to a query regarding the use of technology, particularly online technology for use during remote consultations.

4. The relevant legal requirements are set out below.


5. The Opticians Act 1989 does not restrict the type of equipment, products or technology that can be used by registrants.


6. Our standards set out the key principles that registrants must follow to keep themselves, those they lead or manage, and those they care for, safe. The standards are as follows:

• optometrists and dispensing opticians: Standards of Practice for Optometrists and Dispensing Opticians – standards particularly relevant are:

keep your knowledge and skills up to date and conduct appropriate assessments, examinations, treatments and referrals;
ensure a safe environment for your patients

and for student registrants: Standards for Optical Students – standards particularly
relevant are :

conduct appropriate assessments, examinations, treatments and referrals under supervision

ensure a safe environment for your patients

and for business registrants:

Standards for Optical Businesses – standards particularly relevant are:

ensure that when introducing technological interventions, including artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, they do not compromise patient care, and that professional standards continue to
be met;

provides, promotes and utilises equipment, medications and medical devices (including software and other technologies) that are fit for their intended use, hygienic and in a good state of repair;

ensure that staff utilising equipment, medications and medical devices (including software and other technologies) have undergone appropriate training in their use;

ensure that unauthorised access to equipment, medications and medical devices (including software and other technologies) and restricted areas of the premises is prevented;

provides patients or carers with the information they need to be able to safely use, administer or look after medications or medical devices (including software and other technologies) that they have
been prescribed or directed to use in order to manage their eye conditions.
Exercising professional judgement

7. The GOC understand that some registrants may look to use equipment or technology that they have not used before during the COVID-19 emergency, in order to exercise social distancing in the practice or to offer care remotely when they are not able to see a patient in person. They may also want to use these to help them to make a decision about whether it is necessary to see a patient in person.

8. The landscape for regulating technology is complex. We do not have a direct role in the regulation of equipment, products or technology that is used by our registrants, and it is for our registrants to apply their professional judgment to determine when its use is appropriate. Outside of the provisions in the Opticians Act and Standards framework, both of which are mentioned above, we would not normally express a view about registrants’ use of technology unless there was a specific patient safety issue.

9. A registrant must exercise professional judgement as to what equipment, products or technology to use to help them to assess a patient’s needs. In exercising their professional judgement, registrants should take account of:

• relevant clinical advice;

• advice from the optical professional bodies;

• advice from other relevant regulators, such as the MHRA;

• their own due diligence regarding the product’s licensing, safety, efficacy and provenance;

• their ability to use the technology in line with our standards;

• joint regulatory guidance on remote consultation and prescribing:;

• public health advice at the time in question (some individuals may be selfisolating and unable to attend, public transport may not be available, and some domiciliary visits may no longer be possible for instance);

• patient vulnerability (Government definition available here:; and

• the nature of any specific clinical risks.

Recording your decisions

10. Registrants should make a note of their decisions, including the reasons for their decisions. The note should be made directly in the patient records, or where this is not possible, the patient records should be updated at the earliest available opportunity.

The GOC will keep this statement under review the next routine review due: not later than 31 October 2020.

Scotland issues plans for testing in Residential and Care Homes from today (7th Sept)

September 2020

The Directorate of Primary Care Scotland issued PCA(O)2020(15), which confirms that routine eye care services can be provided within day centres and residential centres (including care homes) from 7 September 2020.

Eye care providers must, however, meet conditions set out in the PCA(O)2020(15) before recommencing these services.

This PCA follows PCA(O)2020(14), which was published over the bank holiday weekend. It confirmed the details of ongoing financial support arrangements for primary eye care in Scotland.

In this week’s Optometry Scotland (OS) in focus, OS confirmed it was continuing its work with Invicta Public Affairs to promote the profession to key members of the Scottish Government, in particular the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport, Jeane Freeman MSP. OS is now developing proposals for a more sustainable funding model and a methodology for annual fee negotiations in Scotland.

Meanwhile, the Scottish Government has set out its plans for the coming year and beyond.

They include plans to “accelerate the reform programme for NHS eye care services, including continuing to implement the recommendations of the Community Eyecare Services Review”.

The goal is to provide more care closer to home and will include supporting an additional 50 optometrists to train as independent prescribers.

The plan also sets a goal for community-based optometrists to “deliver 50,000 appointments for lower risk hospital ophthalmology patients”.

OFNC UPDATE: Mounting concern over delays in Covid-19 Funding Information by Optical Practices in England

September 2020

The OFNC has kept the sector up to date while waiting for NHS England to publish its guidance on ongoing COVID-19 support for optical practices.

To our increasing concern and dismay, NHS England is still to confirm its position over two months after the first phase of support formally ended in June.

As we reported in our July updates, the OFNC has agreed with NHS England that there will be continued average GOS support:

• Until 31 July for all open GOS contractors in England, without any activity threshold
• Until the end of August for all domiciliary providers, with no activity threshold
• Until the end of August for all practices which meet a minimum level of historic GOS1 activity.

Frustratingly, the level of activity required for fixed practices to qualify for support in August has still not been confirmed despite the end of that month now having passed.

We will expect NHS England to take a fair and pragmatic approach in deciding which practices are eligible for payments.

Meanwhile, and as explained in our update of 31 July, we continue to negotiate with NHS England on further support beyond August for practices in deprived areas which largely provide NHS care and are struggling to recover, and for domiciliary providers.

We fully appreciate the difficult circumstances many contractors are still facing, and the added difficulty caused by the lack of certainty over future support arrangements. We fully share that frustration.

We are continuing in urgent discussions about these issues with NHS England and hope to be able to make a further statement about future COVID-19 support soon.

ABDO Announces Board Election Results

September 2020

The results of the election to the Board of the Association of British Dispensing Opticians (ABDO) are as follows:

Saima Begum was re-elected and Kevin Gutsell has also been elected and re-joins the Board after a short break.

John Hardman and Les Thomas were not successful.

Commenting on the result ABDO President Jo Holmes said, “I am delighted that Saima Begum has been elected after three years excellent service on the ABDO Board. I am also very pleased that we will be welcoming back Kevin Gutsell who has played a significant role in developing the profession over many years.

“I offer my sincere commiserations to both John and Les who were both excellent candidates and who reflect the very real talent that exists amongst our membership. I would like to thank them both for standing and giving the whole ABDO membership a real choice at these elections.”

The newly constituted ABDO Board takes office on Friday 4th September.

Domiciliary eyecare begins in Northern Ireland for those in their own homes

September 2020

The HSC has written to all GOS contractors in Northern Ireland to confirm that Phase 3a of the strategic plan for primary care ophthalmic services during Covid-19 will start on 1 September.

Phase 3a allows registered domiciliary eyecare contractors to visit patients experiencing eye symptoms in the patient’s home on a needs-led basis.

You will not yet be permitted to provide domiciliary eyecare in nursing homes, residential care homes, day centres or hospital in-patient settings.

Neither are routine reminders nor recalls for domiciliary care permitted at present for reasons set out in the full HSC letter.

A further review of fuller domiciliary eyecare provision is expected in the coming weeks.

The HSC expects any acute needs for patients in care home settings to be referred to NI PEARS providers for virtual and remote case management. It expects provision will continue to be made for remote repairs and replacement of optical appliances.

The HSC urges optometrists to follow the operational guidance issued on 17 June closely.

Access to free PPE for GOS contractors and how to make NHS mail applications

August 2020

Practitioners in England should note that NHS England and Improvement (NHSE-I) has now published further advice and guidance on setting up an NHS mail account and ordering NHS-funded PPE.

For those who do not already have an NHS mail account should complete the online application process here.

NHSE-I has confirmed that it will provide practices with a shared mailbox with an additional two NHS mail addresses for nominated practice staff.

To support contractors to complete this process, NHSE-I has now deferred the need to complete the Data Security and Protection Toolkit (DSPT) until 31 March 2021.

Practice owners will, however, still need to register for the DSPT on receipt of their NHS mail account.

Members who already have an NHS mail account should still complete the online process.

This will ensure the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) have your details to enable them to provide NHS-funded PPE.

Once your email address is registered with the DHSC, it will contact you directly to invite you to register for the online portal to access NHS-funded PPE.

GOC seeks new Chair after February 2021

August 2020

The General Optical Council (GOC) is seeking a Chair to replace Gareth Hadley when he stands down next February.

The Chair of the GOC has to be a lay person independent of the optical professions.

The Chair appointment is not open to candidates who are or have ever been a registrant. Applicants can apply for the post before 5pm on 1 September.
Apply Here

RCOphth is preparing eyecare services for a potential COVID-19 second wave

August 2020

RCOphth President Bernie Chang in a written letter wrote

The RCOphth continues to work with NHSE and other nation’s governments and health ministers to support our workforce and to ensure that ophthalmology is recognised as an essential service. In the past few months, we have worked with NHSE to develop the CUES specification to support the continuation of urgent eye care services and I know that many eye units were already working with their optometric colleagues to put in better communications and co-working for the benefit of our patients.

A second wave may mean deployment again for trainees and consultants, but what we also know is that, while disruptive, our members did what was asked without hesitation in support of our colleagues across the healthcare system.

We worked with our specialist societies to develop COVID-19 guidance swiftly and this agile way of working will continue to ensure we meet the needs of our members and patients during these unprecedented times. We will continue to monitor the advice and work with our partners, other medical royal colleges, charities and the Academy to be constructive and collaborative where needed, and hold to account where services and support fall short in the protection of our patients and the workforce.

Our membership data shows that BAME make up over 36% of ophthalmologists. We now know of the disproportionate affect the pandemic has had on both BAME patients and the workforce. We must ensure that appropriate measures and support are put in place, working with your trusts, infection control teams and hospital managers. We need to protect all staff and ensure they work in appropriate and safe settings should a second wave occur.

My overriding message is to be prepared, put in place the new ways of working that have been proven to overwhelmingly support patients, such as video consultation, increased collaborative care with optometric colleagues in the community.

English practitioners are reminded that the CET claim window now open

August 2020

The claims window for the CET grant for 2019 is now open.

The deadline is until 30 November to complete the process.

This year you must submit claims using the PCSE Online portal and there is a helpful guide to read before submitting claims online.

At last, PPE Portal for England opens to GOS contractors

August 2020

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) will be extending access to its PPE portal to GOS contractors throughout the week commencing Monday 17 August.

This will allow practices to access PPE funded by the DHSC for GOS.

To access PPE via the portal you must have an NHS mail ( account. You will then be invited to order from the portal by the DHSC Customer Support Team.

NHS England has asked OFNC to encourage all contractors/practices to sign up for an NHS email account and it has asked the other contractor professions representative bodies to do the same.

Your mailbox will be a shared one, which means you can have at least two different users for the account.

Not only is an NHS email address essential for accessing the PPE portal, but it is likely to become an important channel for direct communication with primary care contractors in future.

To set up an account you will need to complete the NHS England Data Security and Protection Toolkit (DSPT).

However to encourage practices to sign up, the requirement to complete the DSPT has been suspended until September.

In reality, however, this is unlikely to be enforced until January 2021. So now is the time to sign up.

If you do not yet have an NHS mail account you should sign up now

ABDO's considered views on the GOC ESR Consultation

August 2020

The Association of British Dispensing Opticians (ABDO) is concerned that proposals in the latest consultation from by the General Optical Council (GOC) as part of its Education Strategic Review (ESR) create a significant risk of inconsistent standards of education and lower standards of education. (Initial Opchat Report here)

ABDO’s concerns arise because the high-level education outcomes do not make clear what clinical knowledge and skills student dispensing opticians and optometrists will need in order to join the GOC register. Together with the absence of a common assessment framework, this means that there will be no guarantee that students reach a safe baseline for entry to the profession. The risk of inconsistent, lower standards is magnified by the fact that there is the potential for multiple routes to registration for both optometrists and dispensing opticians.

ABDO also believes that the GOC has also failed to explain why it is proposing to introduce the single point of accountability model for dispensing opticians.

ABDO understands that this model is designed to lead to student optometrists’ clinical experience being more integrated with their academic study, but nearly all student dispensing opticians combine academic study with working in practice already.

ABDO is concerned about the consultation process, given that respondents to consultation will be unable to make an informed response because the GOC

• has not published any estimates of the costs associated with the proposed new system;
• has not explained who will bear these costs;
• has not shown that the costs will be outweighed by any potential benefits;
• has not distinguished between the impacts on the system of education for optometrists and the impacts on the system for dispensing opticians;
• and has not considered any alternative options so that the relative costs and benefits of the proposed new system can be assessed.

ABDO General Secretary Sir Anthony Garrett CBE HonFBDO says, “I hope all Dispensing Opticians as well as other professionals in the world of optics will take time to read the GOC’s proposals and to study our concerns. We believe that the current proposals are not fit for purpose and need substantial changes. We trust that as many people as possible will wish to respond to the GOC consultation. In order for the public to be properly protected as well as served it is vital that the integrity of the profession is maintained and enhanced. The GOC proposals makes this objective impossible to achieve.”
ABDO remains committed to protecting the public by ensuring that student dispensing opticians are equipped for future roles and despite its concerns will continue to work with the GOC in an effort to develop a new system that delivers consistently high standards of education and supports extended scopes of practice.

You can read ABDO’s concerns in full here.

The consultation is live until 19 October 2020. To take part, visit the GOC Consultation Hub.

GOC erases Scarborough based dispensing optician

August 2020

The General Optical Council (GOC), the UK regulator for optometrists and dispensing opticians, has decided to erase Rebecca Butler, a dispensing optician based in Scarborough, from its register.

She will now be unable to practise as a dispensing optician in the UK.

A GOC Fitness to Practise Committee found her fitness to practise impaired by reason of misconduct.

This is in relation to repeatedly processing false refunds and removing cash from the till of her employer.

Ms Butler had until 17 June 2020 to appeal her erasure, during which time she was suspended from the register under an immediate suspension order.

OFNC July 31 UPDATE: COVID-19 Funding for Optical Practices in England

August 2020

The OFNC is only too aware of the front-line pressures on the sector and we continue to express this urgency in negotiations with NHS England about COVID-19 funding for optical practices, following the end of the first phase funding on 30 June.

On 20 July we announced that while these negotiations continue, it had been agreed that the previous level of COVID-19 funding for GOS contractors in England would be extended until 31 July. This means average GOS payments for this period will be made in August in the usual way.

We are pleased to report that COVID-19 funding is now likely to be extended until 31 August for fixed practices that reach a minimum level of historic GOS1 activity. There is likely to be a requirement of minimum activity of 40% or more, but this is yet to be confirmed. Support will also be extended into August for domiciliary providers, whatever their level of activity.

We are still in negotiations about further support beyond August for practices in deprived areas which largely provide NHS care and are struggling to recover, and for domiciliary providers who continue to face difficulties in reaching patients. We are also continuing to discuss the cost implications for all practices of PPE.

We hope to be able to make a further statement about these issues in the next few days.
Statement prepared bt OFNC Spokesperson

GOC launches ESR consultation on updated education and training requirements

July 2020

The General Optical Council (GOC) has today launched its Education Strategic Review (ESR) consultation on proposals to update its requirements for GOC approved qualifications leading to registration as a dispensing optician or an optometrist.

The consultation is seeking views on the following:

• Outcomes for Registration, which describe the proposed knowledge, skills and behaviours a dispensing optician or optometrist must have at the point they qualify and register with the GOC

• Standards for Approved Qualifications, which explain the expected context for the delivery and assessment of the outcomes leading to an award of an approved qualification

• Quality Assurance and Enhancement Method, which describes how the GOC proposes to gather evidence to decide whether qualifications leading to registration meet its Outcomes for Registration and Standards for Approved Qualifications

These documents will replace the GOC’s current Quality Assurance Handbooks for optometry and dispensing opticians, which includes the required core competencies students must meet, the numerical requirements for students’ practical experiences, and related education policies and guidance. They will also replace the GOC’s supervision policy, which outlines requirements for the supervision of trainees undertaking practice-based learning, and the GOC’s policy on the Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL).

Their development was led by two Expert Advisory Groups (EAGs) for optometrists and for dispensing opticians with input from the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA), which includes feedback from a range of stakeholders including patient representatives, the optical sector and sight-loss charities, the GOC’s Advisory Panel (including the Education Committee) and Education Visitors.

The proposals build upon feedback from the 2018-19 consultation on proposals stemming from the Education Strategic Review (ESR), and analysis of key findings from the concepts and principles consultation published in 2017-18.

Leonie Milliner, GOC Director of Education, said: “The proposed documents will ensure the qualifications we approve are responsive to a rapidly changing landscape in the commissioning of eye-care services in each of the devolved nations. They respond to the changing needs of patients and service users and changes in higher education, not least as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as increased expectations of the student community and their future employers.

We need to consult now to ensure that our current requirements do not become out of date and that the qualifications we approve in the future are fit for purpose. It’s also important that we consult now so that the changes we make to our qualifications align with the changes we make to our pre-registration competence requirements as part of our Continuing Education and Training (CET) Review.

We have worked with a wide range of stakeholders from the optical sector to develop these proposals and we look forward to continuing to work with the sector to ensure optical education is fit for the future. We would like to thank everyone who took the time to help us develop our proposals to ensure they protect and benefit the public, safeguard patients and help to secure the health of service-users.”

To take part in the consultation, visit the GOC Consultation Hub. The last date to participate is 19 October 2020.

NHS encourages online registration and advises on change in GOS forms by October 1

July 2020

The NHS has confirmed that current GOS forms will cease on 30 September 2020, with practices encouraged to submit claims online and those that cannot do so to complete new style paper forms from 1 October, designed to be scanned in on receipt by PCSE. .

Changes to GOS claims

With practices now moving to submitting GOS claims online, the current paper GOS forms will cease on 30 September 2020. New style paper forms, designed for use if online claims are not possible, will be in operation from 1 October 2020.

What is the electronic GOS payments system? A new online system for submitting GOS claims was launched in October 2019 by Primary Care Support England (PCSE) and NHS England & Improvement.

This system was designed to replace the 18 million paper forms that move around the country each year, making the process of submitting claims easier for optical practices, improving cashflow and reporting for all, and establishing a clear environmental benefit at the same time.

Practices of all types and sizes have since moved over to the online claims system. PCSE has been working closely with Practice Management Software (PMS) providers to assist with their software updates, and directly with practices to support roll outs across the country.

Feedback to date has been that the system is intuitive to use, easy to adapt to and provides more clarity on status and payments than paper forms.

Making claims during COVID-19

NHS England recognise that optical practices are focused on adjusting to the new demands placed on them by COVID-19. Electronic submission maximises safety for staff involved, we ask that practices move to the online claims system as a priority.

Additional safety measures have also been put in place, such as enabling ‘COVID-19’ to be entered in the patient signature box for claims submitted during the crisis, removing the need for patient contact.

How to move to online claims:

- If you are part of large chain, please contact your head office to understand their rollout plans

- If you use a PMS system please speak to your provider directly to understand how to switch to online submissions. If your PMS provider is not yet ready you can use PCSE Online free of charge in the interim.

- If you do not use a PMS then you can use PCSE Online. To get set up simply email to get started.

To ensure that practices are supported every step of the way to move to the online system by 30 September, we have streamlined the registration process.

PCSE has also produced resources to support practices with user registration, getting set up and making claims.

Should you have any questions relating to the information please contact the PCSE team directly at

With under 24 hours notice Government excludes the mandatory use of masks in Optical Practices.

July 2020

Difficult to provide any logical reason for this anomaly but these were the new rules released today.

The regulations state that premises in England providing wholly or mainly medical services, including dentistry, optometry and audiology, are exempt, and as such, there is no mandate on the use of face coverings. Although this means it won’t be possible to legally enforce the wearing of face coverings, practices can ask all patients who come in to do so voluntarily (unless they are exempt).

What does this mean for optometry?

Although the regulations mean that face coverings are not mandatory in optometric practices in England, the College guidance remains the same.

They recommend practices encourage their patients to wear face coverings unless the patient has an acceptable reason resulting in an exemption.

Optometrists can request that a patient removes their face covering for any part of the examination where it affects the ability of a practitioner to perform the sight test or consultation.

One would assume that most practitioners and almost all patients would want to wear a face covering, and it is therefore reasonable to request that they do.

How those not wishing to comply will leave yet another conundrum for practices deal with given their is no back up in law.

News from The General Optical Council

July 2020

The General Optical Council (GOC) held its second remote Council meeting on Wednesday 15 July which considered a review of the strategic plan, the Education Strategic Review (ESR), temporary changes to optometry education and training requirements, the GOC annual report and the Optical Consumer Complaints Service (OCCS) Annual Report 2019-2020.

Strategic plan review resulting from COVID-19 pandemic

Council reviewed the five-year ‘Fit for the Future’ strategic plan in relation to the impacts of COVID-19.

It was agreed that no significant changes are required at this stage, although some minor additions and changes to emphasis will be made. Council also identified areas of the plan that could be accelerated, delayed or cancelled should the GOC be further impacted by COVID-19. Key workstreams such as the ESR and the Continuing Education and Training (CET) review will continue.

Education Strategic Review (ESR): support for implementation

Council considered use of reserves to fund two schemes to support the implementation of proposals stemming from the Education Strategic Review (ESR).

Council approved the use of reserves of up to £315,000 over a period of nine years beginning in 2021.

This will support two schemes:

a) Longitudinal research to measure the effectiveness of our outcomes and standards for GOC approved qualifications on new registrants’ competence, confidence and capability (measuring the change we want to see).

b) A knowledge exchange/ information hub to facilitate cross-sector knowledge-led collaborations in supporting programme leaders and academic faculty to design innovative, integrated qualifications that meet GOC outcomes and standards, reducing the risk of poorly designed education programmes failing to meet GOC standards.

Optical education: annual monitoring and reporting

Council considered the Approval and Quality Assurance (A&QA) Annual Monitoring & Reporting Sector Report for the optical education sector for the academic year 2018/19.

Council discussed the findings of this report which identified the following themes and risks affecting the optical education sector:

• Optometry (OO) programmes reported a high ratio of applications to admissions, strong academic qualifications (average offer) amongst prospective students and high levels of student progression and attainment.
• Ophthalmic dispensing (DO) programmes reported high levels of student progression but appear to have experienced difficulty in recruiting students.
• National Student Survey (NSS) scores for OO and DO programmes outperform the national average.
• Independent prescribing (IP) programmes showed a high level of student attainment in their internal exams

The report will be published on the GOC website later this month.

Quality Assurance Handbook (Optometry): temporary changes to standards and requirements in light of COVID-19

Council considered temporary changes to the optometry education standards and requirements for the incoming cohort of optometry students in Autumn 2020.

The changes were in light of a proposal from the College of Optometrists (College) to make temporary arrangements to its Scheme for Registration (SfR).

The GOC intends to run a short, targeted consultation on the proposed temporary changes. Full details on the proposed changes are included in the Council papers.

GOC annual report

Council considered and approved the GOC annual report for 2019/20. The report contains information regarding the arrangements to ensure adherence to good practice regarding equality and diversity and information regarding the Fitness to Practise (FTP)annual report.

Optical Consumer Complaints Service (OCCS) Annual Report 2019-2020

Council noted the Optical Consumer Complaints Service (OCCS) Annual Report for 2019-2020. Nockolds Resolution have delivered the OCCS since 2014 and provide an effective and efficient mediation service between patients and registrants on a variety of lower level complaints which may otherwise be received by the GOC Fitness to Practise (FTP) team.

Last year there was an 80% reduction in referrals from the OCCS to the FTP team as a result of the work undertaken by the OCCS to increase knowledge on how effective complaint handling at the earliest stage can minimise the escalation to fitness to practise.

Since 2014 there has been an almost 260% increase in enquiries received alongside an almost 60% reduction in costs providing excellent value for money for the GOC. OCCS Annual Report will be published on the OCCS and GOC website in due course.

The Professional Standards Authority (PSA) decision on recent petition

Council noted that the PSA has considered the matters raised from a recent petition calling for the GOC to be investigated for conflicts of interest.

The PSA decided that there were no grounds to carry out an investigation into the GOC. Chief Executive and Registrar, Lesley Longstone said “We welcome the decision from the PSA and will cooperate with any further information requests as part of our next performance review in October 2020”.

The next Council meeting takes place on 11 November 2020.

OFNC UPDATE: COVID-19 Funding for Optical Practices in England

July 2020


The OFNC is still working with NHS England on potential further COVID-19 funding for optical practices, following the end of the first phase of funding on 30 June.

It has now been agreed that while these negotiations continue, the previous level of COVID-19 funding for GOS contractors in England will continue for a further month until 31 July. This will mean average GOS payments for this period being made in August in the usual way.

In the meantime we are pressing NHS England to take steps to ensure that practices in relatively deprived areas that largely provide NHS care, and domiciliary providers that continue to face difficulty in reaching vulnerable patients, can survive and continue to provide NHS eye care in the recovery phase of the pandemic.

We are also exploring the cost implications for all practices of ongoing infection control measures including PPE, and the need to be ready for potential second phase or local lockdowns.

We hope that we will be in a position to make a statement about these issues soon.

We will share more information on the outcome of our ongoing discussions with NHS England as soon as we can.

CET claims – England, The How and The When.

July 2020

PCSE has announced that this year the claims window for CET claims will be delayed because of Covid-19. This year, claims will all be managed online, and professionals are advised to:
• Ensure you are set up or have a login to authorise claims online

• Help authorise claims for self-employed optometrists whom you have engaged during the year

• Make sure you do not delay claims unduly by having established systems

Click here for guidance on the entire process

PSA rejects allegations about GOC

July 2020

The Professional Standards Authority (PSA) has considered claims made on about alleged conflicts of interest in the GOC’s governance structure and the suggestion that it was “not fit for purpose”.

The original petition, started by an anonymous source claiming to be an optometrist, called for greater transparency and made several claims about the GOC’s Covid-19 guidance and governance structure and other registrants. The petitioner then called on the PSA to investigate their allegations.

The PSA reviewed claims made in the petition and found that:

• The GOC had consulted with an appropriate range of stakeholder organisations before publishing its Covid-19 guidance

• The GOC had acknowledged when its Covid-19 guidance could have been clearer and worked with professional bodies to clarify this at the time

• There was no evidence of undue influence by a specific individual or business registrants.

In short, the PSA found no evidence of serious concerns about the performance of the GOC or grounds for undertaking a special investigation into the alleged conflicts of interest or other matters raised in the petition.

In a newsletter to its members, who include Specsavers, FODO commented, "Although it is right to raise concerns where necessary, it is also essential for members of the profession to keep in mind GOC standard 17.2, about ensuring “conduct in the online environment, particularly in relation to social media, whether or not connected to your professional practice, does not damage public confidence in you or your profession”.

The statement continued, "It is important to raise legitimate concerns and to do so in a professional way, which includes basic due diligence such as checking whether a petition is run by an anonymous source and on a credible platform – some online petitions can be changed after you have signed them. For example you can inform the PSA directly about any concerns by using the official feedback form."

Read the PSA’s full statement.

Scotland – new PCA for expanded services and submission of payment claims

July 2020

The Scottish Government has published PCA(O)2020(11) which reminds all providers about the 15 July deadline for submission of ‘Part 2’ payment claims for activity during Lockdown and Phase 1.

The new PCA also confirms that from Monday 13 July, members in Scotland can increase their “provision of needs-led and/or symptoms-led emergency and essential eye care, and start to meet outstanding care as capacity permits subject to certain conditions being met”.

The PCA, however, makes clear that “the provision of routine eye care in any setting” and face-to-face domiciliary eye care services remain suspended until further notice.

There is also more detailed information on financial support during phase 3, with practices continuing to receive ‘Part 1’ monthly support payments (as set out in PCA(O)2020(4)) until further notice. However, to receive this payment practices must electronically submit all GOS(S)1, GOS(S)3 and GOS(S)4 forms as set out in the 9 July PCA. Failing to comply with these requirements might result in support payments being stopped.

The Scottish Government has said it will “continue to review the appropriateness of the financial support provided to practices” based on compliance with the detail set out in this week’s PCA. 

Members in Scotland should read the latest PCA in full

Membership Organisations and Colleges combine to release Workforce Risk Assessment

July 2020

Employers and self-employed people must assess the health and safety risks at work. This includes an assessment of risk related to Covid-19 infection. Some people are more at risk of contracting and experiencing adverse outcomes of Covid-19 than others and it is important to perform a workforce risk assessment in addition to your workplace risk assessment.

This interim guidance note is based on the evidence of workforce risk available at the time of publication and will be reviewed and updated as more evidence becomes available.
Read the full Risk Assessment Guidance on PHN's Covid Hub.

OFNC UPDATE: COVID-19 FUNDING for Optical Practices in England

July 2020

As the profession is aware, NHS England’s COVID-19 funding for optical practices during the first phase of the pandemic ended on 30 June. The OFNC submitted new funding proposals to NHS England on 16 June, and the following day NHS England publicly committed to work with us on COVID-19 funding requirements for the next phase. However, NHS England has not yet put any new arrangements in place.

Yesterday (July 2nd) NHS England put to us for the first time a very limited proposal for temporary further funding, which we rejected as inadequate and unworkable. Today we have written again to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care and the Minister for Primary Care, to ensure that NHS England works with us urgently on new funding arrangements to enable practices to maintain the delivery of NHS services.

We have told NHS England that funding for NHS commissioned primary eye care services during this phase of the pandemic must:

• Cover the additional costs of providing NHS eye care during this phase, including enhanced infection prevention and control measures

• Fund practices to deliver remote care for NHS patients, in line with guidance from NHS England, the General Optical Council and the College of Optometrists

• Ensure that practices in relatively deprived areas that largely provide NHS care, and domiciliary providers that continue to face difficulty in accessing vulnerable patients in care homes, can survive and continue to provide NHS eye care

• Fulfil NHS England’s requirement to incentivise providers to prioritise NHS patients, and to secure value for money

• Align with the arrangements NHS England makes during local lockdowns so that providers can focus on meeting patient needs throughout the pandemic, keeping pressure off GPs and hospitals

We know the continued uncertainty over future funding arrangements is causing immense difficulty and concern for eye care providers across England.

We are continuing to press NHS England to work constructively with us to address our proposals and develop a solution which is fit for purpose and meets the needs of patients, NHS England and NHS primary eye care providers.

The OFNC will provide more information as soon as they can.

College provides advice on COVID-19: Preparing for local lockdowns

July 2020

Following the lockdown in Leicester announced on 29 June, we anticipate more local lockdowns being enforced during this phase of the pandemic.

As local lockdowns could be announced at short notice, the College may not be able to immediately highlight them to members if they occur out of office hours. Therefore, we recommend that members and practice owners make plans for local lockdown in their area.

The College’s COVID-19 Pandemic Guidance table was written in anticipation of local lockdowns and is designed to enable optometrists to act swiftly when a local lockdown is announced. Optometrists should use their professional judgement to immediately and appropriately adapt their practices. These measures will help protect local residents from COVID-19 infection, while maintaining the community’s essential eye health and vision needs.

Check information with official local sources

There may be a lag between a government announcement and guidance being published by the local public health and NHS/health services. So, in the first instance practice owners should verify any announcement through a trusted news or government source and then look to their local council for information on the geographic area that is included.

Follow relevant College guidance

If you are working in an area that returns to lockdown, we advise that you should immediately follow the guidance set out in the red column of the College’s COVID-19 Pandemic Guidance table and the detailed recommendations for practice during this phase.

You should take the following actions as soon as the announcement has been made:

1. Face-to-face eye care should only be for patients who need essential or urgent/emergency eye care. The exact mechanism for this service provision will be decided by local arrangements such as Emergency Eye Treatment Centres (EETCs) or urgent care hubs.

2. Triage and eye care should be provided remotely, with patients only seen face-to-face when necessary. Patients already booked for appointments should be contacted to ascertain their level of need. You should postpone their visit if they do not need urgent/emergency or essential care.

3. Practice should be adapted as set out in the red column of the College’s COVID-19 Pandemic Guidance table. You do not need to wait for a College statement before following this guidance.

4. Practices should continue to follow the College’s guidance on infection control, social distancing and PPE.

OFNC Update: NHS Funding for Optical Practices across England and in local lockdowns

July 2020

In our recent discussions with NHS England on COVID-19 funding for optical practices in England, the OFNC has stressed the need for ongoing support in the event of local or regional lockdowns being introduced. This morning the OFNC met NHS England again and discussed the position in Leicester. We understand that NHS England is planning to shortly confirm the next steps for all primary care providers in Leicester, including optical practices.

Meanwhile our discussions with NHS England on future COVID-19 funding for all GOS contractors in England have continued.

The current arrangements end with effect from today, and contractors are understandably frustrated that NHS England has not clarified funding arrangements for the increased cost associated with NHS care from July onwards.

The OFNC continues to press NHS England for a decision on this so that practices and practitioners can focus on meeting the eye health needs of local people safely throughout the pandemic.

We have also clearly set out the additional challenges faced by domiciliary providers. We will provide more information on all these issues, and on the outstanding issue of agreed deductions as set out in NHS England’s 1 April letter to contractors, as soon as we can.

AOP response to petition

June 2020

AOP informs us that the Professional Standards Authority (PSA) will be looking into the matter regarding the GOC performance over Practitioners disobeying the lockdown requirements

The AOP is aware of the petition on asking the Professional Standards Authority to investigate alleged conflicts of interest in the General Optical Council’s governance structure.

The PSA has issued a statement to say that it is “seeking information about the matters raised from the GOC and will make a further statement in response to the petition within the next three weeks”.

Any regulatory body needs to be – and be perceived as – impartial in the positions it takes, and must treat all its registrants fairly and consistently. We are therefore pleased the PSA is looking into the matter.

The petition signatures stand at 7000 currently 500 short of the target for action.(June 23rd 15.00)

AIO gets clarity from the GOC on what services practices could offer in lockdown

June 2020

Independent body invites any breaches of lockdown rules to be reported

AIO today issued a Statement following recent controversy over apparent breaches of lockdown rules by opticians following a meeting with the GOC's CEO Lesley Longstone.

Following this meeting an agreed Statement (see following story) makes it clear that no routine eye examinations or sight tests should have been conducted between the period 23rd March 2020 and 15th June 2020. Any practice breaching the Rules should therefore be subject to Fitness to Practice proceedings.

AIO is aware that there may have been multiple breaches of the rules across the UK and is therefore inviting members and the wider optical community, Independent and Multiple alike, to report and provide evidence of such breaches to the GOC (or to AIO for onward submission) in order that Fitness to Practice proceedings can be commenced in each case.

Any breach reported through AIO will be treated in complete confidence and the reporting party will not be disclosed to the GOC or any other third party. Breaches can be reported to or by telephone to 0800 1300 486 and ask for Mike or Lin

Dr Christian French, AIO Chairman said ‘we were appalled to see evidence of a blatant breach of lockdown rules by optical practices being circulated in the public domain. Against a backdrop of our members (and the Independent sector more widely) strictly observing present GOC rules, teamed with the stresses, uncertainties and hardship that the lockdown has occasioned, a cavalier and total disregard in some quarters is totally unacceptable and must dealt with appropriately. It should never be acceptable that a business goes against the direct advice of our regulatory body (whose rules are put in place for public safety). Such behaviour suggests severely misplaced priorities around public safety, going against the very principles of our profession.'

" Whilst we are aware of, and fully understand, the motivation of the Change.Org petition that has been circulating, our focus is on ensuring clarity regarding the Statements issued by our regulator, whilst bringing to account those who have broken those rules and denigrated our profession in such a blatant manner.’

AIO, as the only representative body in optics which represents Independents exclusively, and without any external influence, is determined that there can be no hiding place for those that have broken the rules against the backdrop.

AIO meets with GOC Registrar to discuss The GOC's position on routine testing during the Lockdown by practices from March 23rd.

June 2020

The AIO met with Lesley Longstone, Chief Executive and Registrar at the GOC on Thursday 18th June and agreed the following statement with them:

• The GOC position as laid out in their circular to all Registrants on 23rd March 2020, which stated ‘In light of concerns regarding the provision of eye services in England, we have issued a statement in support of suspending routine services and limiting registrants to only providing essential and urgent, emergency or acute care’ was confirmed as applying equally to NHS and privately provided care.

• That position, in support of professional guidance from The College of Optometrists, ABDO, AOP and OFNC remained unchanged until their further statement issued on the 12th June 2020.

• Paragraph 4 of the GOC statement issued on 12th June, which reads ‘in our view this means that registrants are able to deliver private eye care including private sight tests / eye examinations and aftercare appointments’ still has to be delivered in accordance with professional guidance including “amber phase” College guidance effective from 15th June

• The recommendation that private eye care services could be expanded beyond that which was urgent or essential, became effective from 15th June 2020 in England when the College changed from Red to Amber guidance. It did not change the position from 23rd March 2020 to 15th June 2020. It was accepted that this point could have been worded in more explicit terms.

• Fitness to Practice matters against individuals and businesses are always judged against the standards that were in place at the time of the alleged breach of GOC standards.

• The GOC is unable to make any public comment on any ongoing Fitness to Practice matter


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