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Opchat Magazine Professional Matters PagesProfessional Matters News, January to March 2021



2021 New Annual Plan published by ABDO
Joint statement from Chief Executives of statutory regulators of health and social care professionals
OFNC UPDATE: IMPACT of New Lockdown on practices in England
Optometrists should follow College’s Amber Phase guidance
GOC erases Liverpool based optometrist
GOC launches consultation on Speaking Up guidance for registrants
Archived Professional Matters October to December 2020

2021 New Annual Plan published by ABDO

January 2021

The Association of British Dispensing Opticians (ABDO) has launched a new Annual Plan for 2021 which can be found here.

The ABDO Annual Plan for 2021 sets out the wide range of activities that ABDO will be carrying out to continue to support, develop and represent members.

ABDO President Jo Holmes says, “We know that Covid-19 made 2020 a hugely difficult year for everyone – both personally and professionally. ABDO will continue to support members in dealing with the pandemic’s challenges, while managing the organisation’s finances prudently and hoping that the coming year brings more positive news.”

ABDO will support members by providing:

• High quality continuing education and training to support your professional development – through articles, webinars, online workshops and, when feasible, regional events.
• Professional and personalised responses to your requests and enquiries.
• A range of professional qualifications to enable entry to the profession and the expansion of roles.
• Support to gain accreditations needed to deliver enhanced services.
• Guidance and tools via our business support hub.
• Advice and guidance on a wide range of clinical and regulatory issues, including via a new clinical support hub.
• A regular supply of news and information through eNews and Dispensing Optics.

ABDO will represent the profession by:

• Representing members on cross-sector-bodies and committees to ensure the voices of dispensing opticians (DOs) and contact lens opticians (CLOs) are heard.
• Working collaboratively with other organisations to promote eye health and the importance of high-quality dispensing.
• Engaging with the GOC to influence regulatory developments.
• Negotiating opportunities for members to develop their roles.

ABDO will build on member development opportunities by:

• Reviewing the syllabus for our FBDO Level 6 Diploma in Dispensing Optics and responding to the GOC’s Education Strategic Review once this is concluded.
• Having a greater focus on providing education and training that supports members continuing professional development.
• Encouraging students to work towards the management and leadership qualifications that we now offer in conjunction with the Chartered Management Institute.
• Seeking to inspire the next generation of dispensing opticians through our Careers in Eyecare campaign.
• Developing a new strategic plan – to take effect in January 2022 – that will set out a positive vision for the future, explain ABDO’s objectives and demonstrate the benefits members can expect to see.

Jo Holmes adds, “As our members’ professional body, we are proud to serve and safeguard the interests of dispensing opticians, contact lens opticians and low vision practitioners, and hope that 2021 proves to be a successful year for all.”

Joint statement from Chief Executives of statutory regulators of health and social care professionals

January 2021

In March last year, at the outset of the Covid-19 pandemic, we issued a statement to support our registrants in dealing with the un-precedented challenges that they were facing.

As the pandemic continues, we know that health and social care professionals continue to work in very difficult situations and under extreme pressures. We want to thank all health and social care professionals for the care they have continued to provide to patients and those who use health and social care services through these very difficult and challenging circumstances.

With the production and distribution of Covid-19 vaccines underway, some of our registrants are leading the effort to vaccinate people as quickly as possible, while others continue to play a vital role in helping to treat and care for people with coronavirus and to contain its spread. We know that the current surge in cases means that all health and social care professionals are likely to face an increased burden, and they may continue to have concerns about decisions they need to take in order to provide the best care in challenging circumstances.

When the pandemic began last year, we as professional regulators across the UK, set out how we would carry out our roles during this time.

We would like to set out our approach again in the following joint statement, which re-iterates the principles we said we would rely upon, and will continue to rely upon as the pandemic continues.

Joint statement from Chief Executives of statutory regulators of health and social care professionals

We hold the registers of health and social care professionals in the UK. We support those professionals to deliver better, safer care by setting the standards they need to meet, to act in the best interests of patients and people who use health and social care services at all times.

As registered professionals, the first concern of the individuals on our registers will be the care of their patients and people who use health and social care services. We encourage health and social care professionals, working in partnership with each other and people using services, to use their professional judgement to assess risk and to deliver safe care informed by any relevant guidance and the values and principles set out in their professional standards.

We recognise that in highly challenging circumstances, professionals may need to depart from established procedures in order to care for patients and people using health and social care services. Our regulatory standards are designed to be flexible and to provide a framework for decision-making in a wide range of situations. They support professionals by highlighting the key principles which should be followed, including the need to work cooperatively with colleagues to keep people safe, to practise in line with the best available evidence, to recognise and work within the limits of their competence, and to have appropriate indemnity arrangements relevant to their practice.

We recognise that the individuals on our registers may feel anxious about how context is taken into account when concerns are raised about their decisions and actions in very challenging circumstances.

Where a concern is raised about a registered professional, it will always be considered on the specific facts of the case, taking into account the factors relevant to the environment in which the professional is working. We would also take account of any relevant information about resource, guidelines or protocols in place at the time.

We will continue to issue profession specific guidance to our registrants to provide additional support where that is needed.

The statutory health and care regulators that have agreed to this statement are:

General Chiropractic Council
General Medical Council
General Optical Council
General Osteopathic Council
General Pharmaceutical Council
Health and Care Professions Council
Nursing and Midwifery Council
Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland
Social Work England

OFNC UPDATE: IMPACT of New Lockdown on practices in England

January 2021

Following the introduction of a new national lockdown in England this week, the OFNC has continued its discussions with NHS England on potential additional support for optical practices affected by the new restrictions.

Under the new rules optical practices are able to remain open, prioritising essential and urgent care and also offering routine care where capacity allows.

However, it is already clear that the new restrictions are having an impact on people accessing eye care, and will cause continued difficulties for domiciliary providers in accessing care homes until the vaccination programme makes progress.

The OFNC and NHS England have agreed to work together to monitor activity levels, and will continue to meet frequently to assess any changes to the current situation and discuss the parameters under which NHS England may consider further intervention to support providers.

The OFNC will provide further information on this as soon as they can.

GOS contractors are invited to contact their OFNC representative body in confidence with information about the viability of services as a result of the new restrictions.

The OFNC will draw on this information (in anonymised form) in its work with NHS England. Please use the following contact details:

ABDO -      
AOP -         
FODO -      

Meanwhile the OFNC’s member bodies are working with others in the sector and with NHS England to ensure that all patient-facing staff in optical practices and domiciliary providers can access COVID-19 vaccinations as soon as possible, and will continue to provide updates.

Optometrists should follow College’s Amber Phase guidance

January 2021

Optometrists should continue to provide needs- and symptoms-led primary eye care under the new restrictions, in line with all other primary health services.

The College maintains that routine appointments should only be provided if capacity permits, and if it is in the patients’ best interests.

Detailed information on how to achieve this is set out in the College’s amber guidance. While we recognise that optometric practice during a lockdown is challenging, access to an optometrist is critical in ensuring the preservation of vision and prevention of sight loss. This will also help to relieve pressure on NHS hospital services.

We are clear that following Amber Phase guidance during a lockdown does not mean business as usual. Optometry practices should continue to follow existing IPC (infection prevention and control) and social distancing guidance, and prioritise emergency/urgent and essential care on a needs- and symptoms-led basis. This also recognises that practices are at a very different level of preparedness than in March, with IPC procedures in place, changes to clinical practice now embedded and lateral flow tests and PPE readily available.

Routine appointments should only be provided if capacity permits, and if it is in the patients’ best interests.

Prioritising provision

College members should offer phone and video review to patients in the first instance to determine COVID-19 status and level of eye care needed. This should be noted on the patient’s file, and you can use the College’s phone triage form to record remote consultations. Patients should be advised to contact the practice if COVID-19 symptoms develop before, or after, an appointment.

Asymptomatic patients should be advised of the importance of reduced contact and offered the choice of postponing their routine examination until restrictions are eased, particularly if they are at high risk of being affected by COVID-19.

When providing face-to-face care, you should continue to follow the College’s guidance on infection prevention and control, social distancing and wearing of appropriate PPE.

GOC erases Liverpool based optometrist

December 2020

The General Optical Council (GOC), the UK regulator for optometrists and dispensing opticians, has decided to erase Rajendra Chopra, an optometrist based in Liverpool, from its register with immediate effect.

A GOC Fitness to Practise Committee found his fitness to practise impaired by reason of misconduct. This is in relation to his failure to carry out an adequate sight test and make an appropriate referral, and his actions were inappropriate, misleading and dishonest.

Mr Chopra has until 29 December 2020 to appeal his suspension.

GOC launches consultation on Speaking Up guidance for registrants

December 2020

The General Optical Council (GOC) has launched a consultation on new draft Speaking Up guidance for registrants, which aims to support registrants to speak up about concerns they have, in particular those that affect patient and public safety.

The consultation seeks feedback on the clarity and impacts of the guidance, as well as whether there are any areas missing.

The guidance was developed following learnings from recent healthcare inquiries into issues where staff’s concerns were not appropriately actioned, such as the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust Public Inquiry.

The document has been drafted in line with the GOC’s duty of candour guidance, which outlines the need for registrants to be open and honest when things go wrong, and should be read alongside the Standards for Optometrists and Dispensing Opticians, Standards for Students and Standards for Optical Businesses.

The consultation follows the recent launch of the GOC’s new learning bulletin for registrants on the fitness to practise (FtP) process called ‘FtP FOCUS’.
Marcus Dye, GOC Acting Director of Strategy, said: “Within our Standards, registrants have a duty to speak up about concerns they have when patients and the public might be at risk. We know this can be a difficult thing for individuals to do, and even more so if businesses are unaware of their responsibility to make the process simple and to act on concerns raised.

We’ve split the guidance into two parts, one for individuals and one for businesses, to be as clear as possible on our expectations. Whether you’re an individual or a business, we encourage all registrants to read both parts.

As always, we expect registrants to use their professional judgement when applying the guidance, however we hope that this new guidance will give them the confidence to speak up when they need to in order to protect the public.”

To respond to the consultation, visit the GOC Consultation Hub. The consultation will close on 10 March 2021.


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