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Opchat Magazine Professional Matters PagesProfessional Matters News, April to June 2021


GOC suspends Glasgow based optometrist
GOC suspends Cheltenham based optometrist
NHS funded PPE extended until end of March 2022
GOC erases Cardiff based dispensing optician
General Optical Council ( GOC) shares insights from public perceptions research
New OFNC Chair confirms course for the coming year.
GOC welcomes the Professional Standards Authority Performance Review
GOC itself feels the shadow of inspection on its regulatory roles by Department of Health and Social Care
What will the first sweeping changes to NHS and eye care provision create from the White Paper?
Archived Professional Matters January to March 2021

GOC suspends Glasgow based optometrist

April 2021

The General Optical Council (GOC), the UK regulator for optometrists and dispensing opticians, has decided to suspend David Little, an optometrist based in Glasgow, from its register for twelve months.

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

This is in relation to amending patient records which did not reflect an accurate account of the patient’s appointment.

Mr Little has until 6 May 2021 to appeal his suspension.

GOC suspends Cheltenham based optometrist

April 2021

The General Optical Council (GOC), the UK regulator for optometrists and dispensing opticians, has decided to suspend Ariana Faderani, an optometrist based in Cheltenham, from its register for twelve months.

A GOC Fitness to Practise Committee found her fitness to practise impaired by reason of misconduct. This is in relation to her falsifying sight test records to inflate her sales figures and related bonus and deceiving her employer by using study days for recreational travel.

Ms Faderani has until 29 April 2021 to appeal her suspension

NHS funded PPE extended until end of March 2022

April 2021

In England, the Department of Health and Social Care will continue to fund PPE for opticians until 31 March 2022.

NHS England said that clinical experts expected usage would “remain high throughout the next financial year”.

PPE will continue to be provided through the existing portal or other agreed distribution channels.

GOC erases Cardiff based dispensing optician

April 2021

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

A GOC Fitness to Practise Committee found his fitness to practise impaired by reason of misconduct and health. This is in relation to processing false transactions and removing cash from the till for his own personal use.

Mr Purdy has until 16 April 2021 to appeal his erasure, during which time he is suspended from the register under an immediate suspension order.

General Optical Council ( GOC) shares insights from public perceptions research

April 2021

The General Optical Council (GOC) has published its 2021 public perceptions research, which seeks to understand the public’s views and experiences of opticians across the UK.

Over 2,000 members of the public responded to an online survey as part of the research. Some key findings include:

• 96 percent of respondents were satisfied with their last opticians visit overall.
• 94 percent of respondents remain confident in the standard of care provided by opticians remains high, and is higher than that for doctors, dentists and pharmacists.
• 97 percent said they were satisfied with the measures that were in place during their last optician visit to protect them from coronavirus.
• A new high of 30 percent of respondents said they would speak to an optician first if they woke up with an eye problem, representing an 11-percentage point increase since 2015.
• Over a third of respondents (35%) said they perceive opticians to be solely a healthcare service, which has increased by 4-percentage points since 2019.

The term ‘opticians’ was used throughout the research to avoid confusion on the assumption that the public do not clearly distinguish between ‘optometrists’ and ‘dispensing opticians’, although questions about the understanding of these terms were included as part of the research.

Marcus Dye, GOC Acting Director of Strategy, said: “We’re extremely pleased to see that confidence in the professions remains high, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. We’d like to thank our registrants for their hard work during these difficult times to ensure the public could still receive eye care and feel safe doing so.

It’s also positive to see that the perception of opticians as a healthcare service has increased to over a third, and more respondents than ever say they would speak to an optician first if they had an eye problem. We look forward to continuing to see these numbers increase and we hope registrants and the wider sector will find the report to be helpful in improving optical care practice.”

The survey was carried out by M·E·L Research and was conducted online and distributed to a UK consumer panel, which includes members of the public who have signed up to take part in online research on a wide number of topics.

The research forms part of the GOC’s ‘Fit for the Future’ strategic plan for 2020-25, and will be used to inform its work in transforming customer service and future policy and research activities.

The GOC has published five public perceptions reports since this research began in 2015. The full report is available on the GOC website.

New OFNC Chair confirms course for the coming year.

April 2021

The incoming Chair of the Optometric Fees Negotiating Committee, Gordon Ilett, has thanked outgoing Chair Paul Carroll for the leadership he has provided throughout the COVID-19 crisis. He confirmed that the OFNC’s top priorities for the coming year would continue to be supporting the optical sector through the pandemic, and pressing for a fairer level of GOS sight test fee and grants.

Paul Carroll said: “As always, OFNC is a collective effort of very able people and it has been a privilege to lead the team. This has been the year where, backed by the tremendous effort and support of the whole sector, we have been able to demonstrate our vital importance to the nation’s eye health. I wish Gordon every success in his role as Chair and helping us secure fairer funding for the essential public health service we provide.”

Gordon Ilett said: “Like Paul I have worked at the sharp end owning my own optical practice for over 30 years. I know how challenging the last year has been for everyone in the sector. GOS contractors throughout England have worked incredibly hard to keep providing care to their patients, even in the early stages of the pandemic when remote care was key in the absence of PPE. Even now some practices are still facing financial challenges because of the restrictions introduced at the start of 2021, and we will keep making the case for additional targeted support where necessary. We encourage GOS contractors to keep us informed of the challenges they are facing.”

“It is also a top priority for the OFNC to keep pushing for a proper increase to the GOS sight test fee, which has been so badly eroded by rising costs and inflation in recent years. The 1.9% increase that has recently been announced for 2021/22 is a start, but much more is needed. Maintaining patient services and achieving fairer, evidence-based, fees will remain our focus as, once again, the NHS reorganises around us.”

GOC welcomes the Professional Standards Authority Performance Review

April 2021

The General Optical Council (GOC) welcomes the publication of the Professional Standards Authority’s (PSA) annual performance review for 2019/20. The GOC has met 16 of the 18 Standards of Good Regulation.

The review, which assessed performance between 1 October 2019 and 30 September 2020, was satisfied that the GOC met all of the relevant standards for General Standards, Guidance and Standards, and Education and Training. However, they did not satisfy all of the Standards for Registration (Standard 10) or Fitness to Practise (Standard 15).

The PSA noted that although the GOC did not meet Standard 10, due to errors found in the register, the issues were quickly addressed in each case and the appropriate course of action was followed to correct the register and change its processes.

It was observed that the GOC is implementing an improvement plan to address the issues of timeliness in its fitness to practise processes.

This commitment to improve is outlined within the GOC Strategic Plan for 2020-25, which includes the development of an improved case management system and a modernisation of its processes.

The PSA also praised the GOC for its response to the unprecedented challenges of COVID-19 pandemic. It noted that guidance was issued for registrants and businesses in a variety of areas, as well as consulting ‘quickly and constructively’ with key stakeholders to make the necessary changes to core activities, such as using technology to hold remote fitness to practise hearings.

Lesley Longstone, GOC Chief Executive and Registrar, said: “We welcome the outcome of the PSA report and are pleased to have met the majority of the Standards, particularly in light of the challenges we have all faced during COVID-19.

“It is heartening to note that the efforts made to adapt to the COVID-19 emergency have not gone unnoticed. We moved as quickly as we could to release a number of statements to help support our registrants throughout the pandemic and clarify certain areas of practice to protect public safety, as well as outlining the amendments to our regulatory functions.

“We are aware that there is still work to be done to improve the timeliness of our fitness to practise cases and have been working to implement our improvement plan, in line with our ‘Fit for the Future’ Strategic Plan for 2020-25. A new triage process has been introduced to ensure that we are only investigating cases where there is a genuine fitness to practice concern, which has helped to reduce the number of cases entering the system unnecessarily.

“The accuracy of our registers is a fundamental part of our duty to protect the public. Although the errors noted were resolved in good time, we will be taking on board the feedback that we have received from the PSA to ensure that we are continuously improving and on track to delivering world-class regulatory practice.”

Read the full review on the Professional Standards Authority’s website.

GOC itself feels the shadow of inspection on its regulatory roles by Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC)

March 2021

As it (DHSC) published last week a consultation on Regulating Health Care Professionals, Protecting the Public.

The reforms cover four broad areas – governance and operating framework, education and training, registration, and fitness to practise (FTP).

The consultation also sets out “next steps for the reform of professional regulation” to follow this consultation.

The consultation notes that:

• Any changes to regulating businesses “will be considered and consulted on when our reforms are delivered into that regulator’s legislation”.

• “The GOC is the only regulator which holds a student register”. The proposal is to “remove any powers or duties for regulators to hold a register of students”, which includes “removing the duty on the GOC to hold a student register”

• There is a general preference to move to a unitary board structure.
The government also intends to:

• “Commission a review of the professions that are currently regulated in the UK, to consider whether statutory regulation remains appropriate for these professions”

• “Commission an independent review of the number of regulators.”

The GOC response was that they welcomed this consultation and the aim to give all health and social care regulators broadly equivalent powers in order to maintain a level of consistency and effective public protection.

They think that removing overly prescriptive, complex and rigid legislative frameworks will allow regulators greater freedom to respond to future challenges, such as COVID-19, in a quicker and more effective way. They also note the intention to commission a review of the overall number of regulators and regulated professions.

They welcomed the fact that this is being taken forward by an independent party and look forward to feeding in our views.

They did not address the possible removal of the student register but no doubt will in due course.

What will the first sweeping changes to NHS and eye care provision create from the White Paper?

March 2021

Integration and Innovation, the white paper in February is the first serious attempt to reform the Lansley reforms of 2012.

The reforms would allow government to transfer functions at arm's length without primary legislation. So even robust bodies like the CQC and NICE could feel the wind of change or even be closed down.

However the pandemic has shown that intra professional working has proven to bring swifter and in the main harmonious new working practices and pathways often involving cross party actions over a span including primary, secondary and yes even social care.

If these successful actions are the drivers for change then the Integrated Care Systems (ICS) that have been influential in these moves will be heralded as the way forward and may make way for easier negotiations in primary care pathways. That is a hope but the devil is in the detail and only time will tell. The ICS will be given a statutory footing according to the white paper.

Richard Murray, CE of the King's Fund says"By sweeping away clunky competition and procurement rules, these new plans could give the NHS and its partners greater flexibility to deliver joined up care to the increasing numbers of people who rely on multiple different services."

Of course flexibility to some is a free for all to others. But if we truly want to see an end of turf wars between professions and an improvement in patient journeys, as long as safety is sacrosanct, does it matter who does what along a patient pathway?

Rules that have appeared to have made sense in the past have often made electing for a NHS service more difficult. You might be surprised how many direct phone calls PHN receives each week fro m elderly or vunerable patients asking for help in finding Opticians who provide Home Visits in their area.

We try and help but many want an independent practitioner not a large domiciliary company and we struggle as many independents have not informed our education site that they provide the service. We do go the full mile and contact local independents by phone asking for information, but almost always we are told that no optician wants to, or can afford to do home visits.

As the ICS role will be to look at help in community care and social care this might be one area they could be more flexible in adoption.

NHS England – eye care priorities for 2021/22

In its latest priorities and operational planning guidance, NHS England (NHSE) says it hopes to “reduce variation in access and outcomes”, by maximising elective activity and “taking full advantage of the opportunities to transform the delivery of services”. As part of this initiative, it expects the NHS to “implement whole pathway transformations and thereby improve performance” in “eye care with support via the National Pathway Improvement Programme”.

Its implementation guidance sets out how NHSE plans to shift some of its direct commissioning functions to new Integrated Care Systems (ICSs). Although NHSE is still consulting on legislative change proposals, it “anticipates” ICSs will take on general ophthalmic commissioning from 1 April 2022 onwards.

What FODO says:

David Hewlett of FODO said: “FODO and every other optical body has stressed the importance of preserving the national sight testing and case finding service and infrastructure on public health grounds.”

He added: “Irrespective of where in the system contracts are held, the priorities for FODO and the other optical bodies , must be to protect choice and access for patients and minimise bureaucracy for primary eye care contractors.”

FODO has also responded to the Health and Select Committee inquiry into healthcare reforms, calling for the national sight-testing and case-finding service to be preserved and patient choice to be strengthened Read FODO response here

Meanwhile like Pandemic Relaxation powers Wales they also make the first moves in eye care reforms and optometry

Following the 11 March announcement of plans to reform eye care services in Wales, the Minister for Health and Social Services, Vaughan Gething, has announced that over £8.5m will be “invested to create a new Electronic Patient Record and digital Electronic Referral system for eye care in Wales”. National digital eye care patient record system.

NHS Wales and the Welsh Government has published "Future approach for optometry services." Pages 38 to 42 provide a good summary table of what the government hopes will be delivered across Level 1 to 4 of the new GOS model.



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