Primary Health Net
Visit our Public Information Site
Go to my LOC site
Grafton 2018 eros events

Professional Matters News, May - June 2015

GOC welcomes performance review

GOC recruiting new registrant member to Council

A week to go to UKs leading Eye Health and Sight Loss Conference

New Chair elected to lead the Clinical Council for Eye Health Commissioning

GOC thanks stakeholders for Standards response

IACLE presents first Lifetime Acheivement Award in Contact Lens Education

College of Optometrists research project proposes Dementia Eyecare Pathway

David Hewlett (OC) asks profession to influence GOC Standards Consultation

New Minister for State for Primary Care

OC offers help and advice to Manchester Contractors faced with reviews by MIAA

Reasearch Journals 90th anniversary celebrated at ARVO 2015>

College to use innovative film scenarios

GOC Meeting

OCCS reports high public satifaction

Further GOC Meeting news

FODO celebrates 30 years of success, leadership and growth

FODO rewards longstanding members for their contribution to UK optics whilst welcoming new faces to the Board

FODO Chair’s Speech highlights disappointment in “Call to Action” progress

Wales Vision Strategy reception celebrates success

AOP reports 5% membership increase in 2014

GOC welcomes Professional Standards Authority performance review

June 2015

The General Optical Council (GOC) has today welcomed the Professional Standards Authority’s (The Authority) annual performance review report. The GOC has met 21 of The Authority’s 24 Standards of Good Regulation, including all of those for standards and for education.

The Authority particularly praised the GOC’s enhanced CET scheme, citing independent research about the effectiveness of peer review and noting that it is ‘an area of good practice’ that ‘should lead to better care for patients’.

The research showed that almost three-quarters (73 per cent) of practitioners have made changes to their practice after participating in case-based peer review discussions as part of their CET. Most optometrists also reported increased self-confidence after taking part.

Samantha PetersSamantha Peters, Chief Executive and Registrar, said: “We welcome The Authority’s report and their feedback on our work to protect the public. It is heartening to see them recognise the enormous positive impact that peer review has had on the professions and on patient safety.

“We have a clear plan in place addressing the areas where we didn’t meet standards this year. In particular, we understand the utmost importance of continuing our work to speed up the fitness to practise process. We have reduced the time taken to impose an Interim Order once we have information about the need from 4.5 weeks to just 3, and this is really boosting public protection through quick action in cases that present the most serious patient safety risk.

“But, against the backdrop of a 48 per cent increase in our caseload, we have not yet reduced the overall time we take to deal with complaints as we would like to have done. We are determined to reduce this time in the interests of patients and registrants alike.

“We are carrying out a review of our fitness to practise process and are reviewing the type and amount of resources needed to improve our capacity to progress cases. We have put some improvements in place already. We are appointing more performance assessors and case examiners to ensure we progress cases faster.

“We are working closely with the main defence bodies to ensure we are cooperating effectively to progress cases. And our case examiners are now bedded in so we expect to see some improvement in the speed of progressing cases over the coming year. However, it will take longer to achieve our target of resolving the great majority of cases within a year.

“We would be further aided in efficient complaints handling through change to some of the outdated legislation that constrains our work. Threshold criteria would mean we do not have to investigate cases where there is no risk to patient safety or public confidence in the professions. Consensual disposal of cases, where a registrant admits fault and accepts a proposed sanction, and voluntary erasure for registrants with health concerns (so they don’t have to go through the full fitness to practise process) would also help us to work more efficiently.

With that in mind, we were extremely disappointed that the Professional Accountability Bill[1] was not in the Queen’s Speech and we urge the Government to legislate at the earliest opportunity.

“Meanwhile we have commissioned an independent audit of our registration processes, which has given us a good report with a few improvement areas. We are addressing these by improving our quality assurance and providing extra staff training.

“New information security and incident reporting policies will help us to address the small number of data breaches we had last year. In respect of these breaches we quickly identified them and our staff took fast and appropriate action to minimise any risk. The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) did not take any enforcement action in respect of the breaches. Nonetheless we remain committed to doing our utmost to prevent such incidents.

“We look forward to continuing to work together with The Authority to protect patients and the public.”

The full report is available at

GOC recruiting new registrant member to Council

June 2015

The General Optical Council (GOC) has today launched a campaign to recruit a new registrant member to its Council.

The successful appointee is expected to take up their post on 1 January 2016.

The GOC’s Council is responsible for setting the organisation’s strategic direction and holding its executive to account. It comprises six registrant members and six lay members. The Chair is always a lay member.

GOC Chair Gareth Hadley said, “Joining the GOC Council represents a tremendous opportunity to help shape the future of the optical professions. It is a time where the professions have the potential to really move forward, particularly in terms of registrants expanding their scopes of practice and undertaking more enhanced services.
The successful candidate should be able to contribute to our work of protecting the public during this exciting period. I strongly encourage all registrants who believe they have the necessary expertise to apply for this role.”

The successful candidate will replace optometrist Rob Hogan, whose term finishes on 31 December 2015. Optometrists and dispensing opticians are both eligible to apply for the vacancy.

The Professional Standards Authority oversees the GOC’s appointments process on behalf of the Privy Council.

The closing date for applications is 21 July 2015. The GOC particularly encourages applications from women and/or ethnic minorities to better reflect the diversity of its registrants and patients.

A week to go till the UK’s leading eye health and sight loss conference

June 2015

There is only one week left until Vision UK 2015, the UK’s only conference for the whole of the eye health and sight loss sector, which takes place on Thursday, 18 June at Central Hall Westminster, London.

The conference will be chaired by Michael Sobanja, Director of Policy at NHS alliance and the keynote address will be given by Lord Holmes MBE. Other high profile speakers and leading experts, who will present at the conference, include:
• David Allen, Chief Executive of Faculty of Public Health
• Jarnail Chudge, User Experience Architect at Microsoft
• Vidar Hjardeng MBE, Diversity Consultant for ITV
• Angela Henderson, Local Eye Health Network (LEHN) Chair, Cumbria and North East
• Andrew Kaye, Head of Policy and Campaigns, Independent Age
• Kiran Kaja, Technical Programme Manager, Google
• Dr Steve Kirk, Planned Care Lead at Newcastle Gateshead
Clinical Commissioning Group
• David Parkins, President, College of Optometrists.
• Dr Waqaar Shah, Royal College of General Practitioners Clinical Champion
• Darren Shickle, Professor of Public Health, University of Leeds
• Paul Smythe, Head of IT Accessibility at Barclays bank
• Andrew Webster, Associate Director, Integrated Care, Local Government Association.

The conference, now in its seventh year, will feature five conference streams, focused on delivering aspects of the UK Vision Strategy and tailored for different professional interests. The streams are as follows:
• Making the case for improving eye health
• Transforming patient care to ensure timely treatment and support
• Empowering adults with sight loss to regain their independence
• A world without barriers for children and young people
• Social inclusion: transforming lives through digital technology

Katherine Raven, UK Vision Strategy Senior Manager said: “We look forward to welcoming delegates to what promises to be the best Vision UK conference yet. This year’s event will feature presentations from a range of leading experts who will showcase inspiring examples of how working collaboratively can deliver real and lasting change”.

Conferences places can be booked online until midday on Tuesday 16 June

Following this delegates can register on the day of the conference at Central Hall Westminster.

New Chair elected to lead the Clinical Council for Eye Health Commissioning (CCEHC)

June 2015

David Parkins, President of the College of Optometrists, has today taken over as Chair of the Clinical Council for Eye Health Commissioning (CCEHC).

The Clinical Council, which brings together professional and patient organisations from across the sector, is the national clinical voice for eye health in England. Formed in 2013 under the Chairmanship of the Professor Harminder Dua, former President of The Royal College of Ophthalmologists, the Clinical Council has been working in partnership with NHS England to support the development of services to meet local population needs and improve outcomes for patients .

Following a vote of the membership of Clinical Council, David Parkins was elected as Chair. He said:

Parkins and Dua CCEHC“The Clinical Council is now fully established under the excellent chairmanship of Professor Harminder Dua. I am proud to be taking over from him and chairing a body with such a vast collective expertise of commissioning eye health and sight loss services, including social care and ophthalmic public health.

“I am looking forward to working with NHS England, other Local Eye Health Network Chairs, CCGs, Health and Wellbeing Boards and the range of Providers within Eye Health on developing improved co-ordination and integration between services. We do need to start collecting performance data for our pathways using the new Portfolio of Indicators (developed by the VISION 2020 (UK) ophthalmic public health committee) to show we are delivering improved outcomes for our patients.”

Since its formation, the Clinical Council has been a voice for the eye health professions and patient organisations, most notably with its evidence-based responses to the NHS England consultation Improving eye health and reducing sight loss - a call to action, and the debate surrounding the use of Avastin to treat wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

Professor Harminder Dua, former President of The Royal College of Ophthalmologists and first Chair of the Clinical Council for Eye Health Commissioning, added:

“It’s been a privilege to serve as first Chair of the Clinical Council for Eye Health Commissioning which has already achieved a great deal in terms of collaboration and output. As a body, the Clinical Council offers a unique opportunity for a range of organisations within the sector to come together, and there has been an enormous amount of consensus for key and pressing issues affecting the whole sector.
“We have been able to provide a key voice in discussions on eye health commissioning, and our combined expertise will enable us to offer invaluable, evidence-based advice that will deliver real and positive changes to eye and vision services in England.

“I was honoured to lead the Clinical Council through its first two years, and in handing the Chairmanship to David, I know I am leaving it in safe and capable hands.”

GOC thanks stakeholders for standards consultation response

June 2015

The General Optical Council (GOC) has thanked its stakeholders for responding in such large numbers to its consultation on new standards of practice designed to raise standards across the optical professions.

Alistair Bridge, GOC Director of Strategy, said: “We are really pleased to have received so many responses to the consultation and from such a wide range of stakeholders, including many registrants. The feedback will really help us to ensure that the final version of the new standards enables us to better protect the public while minimising the burden on registrants and providing room for them to use their judgement as professionals.

“It will be really important for the standards to make our expectations clearer and treat registrants as healthcare professionals who provide invaluable services to the public with the potential to do more in the future.”

The GOC received around 2,000 responses to the written consultation and an online registrants’ survey. The regulator also held a series of focus groups with patients, the public, registrants, students, insurers, educators and fitness to practise decision-makers.

Staff attended 100% Optical, Optometry Tomorrow and Optrafair to engage with registrants, and met with a number of patient groups, professional bodies, defence bodies and representatives from each of the devolved nations.

Alistair Bridge continued, “We want to thank everyone who has had their say, whether by completing our online survey, meeting us, attending a focus group, discussing the standards at a trade show or giving us their views in writing.”

The GOC is now analysing the feedback from the consultation and considering how the draft standards could be improved. The GOC Council will consider the feedback at its public meeting on 29 July and the regulator will then publish an independent report summarising the feedback and set out the timetable for implementing the new standards.

IACLE presents first Lifetime Achievement Award in Contact Lens Education

June 2015

Professor Desmond Fonn received the award at a dinner at Manchester Museum on Wednesday 27th May to mark the Third IACLE World Congress (24th to 28th May).

His contribution to global contact lens education includes being a founding member of IACLE and its vice president for 15 years. He also served as Editor in Chief of the first edition of the IACLE Contact Lens Course (ICLC), used by educators around the world. And in 1994 and 2002, he organised the previous two IACLE World Congresses.

Des Fonn IACLE award winnerA Distinguished Emeritus Professor at the University of Waterloo, Canada, Professor Fonn joined the university in 1986 and was founding Director of its Centre for Contact Lens Research (CCLR). He retired from the university’s School of Optometry in 2010.

At the award presentation, Professor Fonn’s successor at Waterloo, Professor Lyndon Jones, described him as a ‘giant in the contact lens world’. ‘We owe Des a phenomenal thanks because without him we wouldn’t be here,’ he said.

‘IACLE has been very dear to me,’ said Professor Fonn, acknowledging the contribution of the association’s co-founders and the support of industry since its inception. ‘I’ve made incredible friends around the world who have spent thousands of hours working for IACLE. The result is that IACLE has been so instrumental in driving contact lens education.’

The Congress saw more than 100 contact lens educators and industry representatives gather in the UK for the four-day event, hosted by The University of Manchester. Delegates gained hands-on experience of innovations in teaching, such as learning delivery systems, the use of iPads in the classroom and for creating ePub content, and augmented and virtual reality technologies. IACLE members around the world also took part via a live online broadcast.

The Third IACLE World Congress was made possible by the generous support of sponsors Alcon, CooperVision and Johnson & Johnson Vision Care.
Many delegates travelled on from Manchester to Liverpool for the British Contact Lens Association’s Clinical Conference & Exhibition (29th to 31st May). At a special IACLE session at the conference, President Dr Shehzad Naroo announced that a new edition of the ICLC was in preparation by leading educators and researchers worldwide.

The 2015 IACLE Contact Lens Educator of the Year Awards to recognise and reward achievement in contact lens education worldwide, supported by the BCLA and sponsored by CooperVision, were presented, one for each of IACLE’s three global regions. The 2015 IACLE Travel Award, a travel bursary for an IACLE Educator Member who would not otherwise be able to attend the BCLA conference, was also presented.


Professor Desmond Fonn receives the first IACLE Award for Lifetime Achievement in Contact Lens Education.

IACLE Group imagePictured (l-r) at the IACLE session held at the British Contact Lens Association Clinical Conference are 2015 IACLE Travel Award recipient Dumpati Srikanth from India, IACLE Americas Contact Lens Educator of the Year Martín Giraldo, IACLE Asia Pacific Contact Lens Educator of the Year Professor Monica Chaudhry, Vice President Global Professional & Clinical Affairs at CooperVision Dr Gary Orsborn, IACLE Europe / Africa – Middle East Contact Lens Educator of the Year Helmer Schweizer, and IACLE President Dr Shehzad Naroo.

College of Optometrists’ research project proposes Dementia Eye Care Pathway


Emerging findings from the PrOVIDE (Prevalence of Visual Impairment in Dementia) project has led to calls for a dedicated Dementia Eye Care Pathway.

The two-year project was funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and was led by the College of Optometrists with nationwide support from The Alzheimer's Society, Thomas Pocklington Trust, University College London, Newcastle University, City University London and the University of Birmingham.

In an article published last month in the College’s peer-reviewed journal, Optometry in Practice, the team behind the study recommended that a dementia diagnosis should automatically trigger a range of measures, as laid out in a Dementia Eye Care Pathway that would provide a route through the care system that ensures people are guided to the appropriate treatment at the appropriate time.

The measures triggered by the pathway should include the provision of timely, written information on eye examinations and GOS sight tests for people with dementia and their carers; financial assistance to ensure that missing or broken spectacles can be replaced; and consideration of early intervention for cataract surgery.

Mike Bowen, the College’s Director of Research and lead investigator on the PrOVIDe project, said: “We know that the majority of optometric patients are mature adults, and we also know that we have an ageing population. The growth of the older population will inevitably mean that optometrists will encounter increasing numbers of people with dementia, and we need to make sure the profession can meet the needs of these people.

Dementia should never be a barrier to a sight test. Through this study, we know there are a range of strategies that optometrists can use to improve the eye examination for people with dementia, such as scheduling longer than usual appointments or, spreading the exam across two appointments to reduce stress on the individual. A more flexible approach to the GOS contract arrangements would help with this.

As more findings emerge from this study, we look forward to sharing them with the profession to ensure the best possible eye and vision care for people with dementia.”
Emerging findings are continuing to be reported at various conferences while the project’s final report is currently under review by the funders.

OC’s CEO David Hewlett asks profession to help influence GOC STANDARDS CONSULTATION


The General Optical Council is consulting the sector about new standards of practice for registrants. It is important that the entire sector engages with the GOC’s consultation process to get the best outcome for patients, practitioners and practices.

Hewlett explains why it is so important for members to respond from the FODO perspective

FODO fully supports the GOC’s new approach to standards, which looks to update and clarify the current code to make them easier to understand for professionals, patients and the public.

They are concerned however that whilst this general approach is correct there remain serious issues with the standards as currently drafted. Without important changes we fear the new standards may actually lead to less clarity and confuse rather than inform practitioners and the public.

There is evidence that the GOC will be counting responses. If you read FODO’s suggested amends to the new standards and agree with our comments it is important you make your voice heard and help get the best result for the sector. If you disagree with our suggestions it is important you let us know and help influence FODO policy.


Please read the attached short breakdown of our general response. We have also attached our (FODO’s) revised standards.

FODO’s general response
We welcome the opportunity to comment on these standards and the open approach the GOC has adopted to consulting on them.

We recognise that they are intended simply to be an expanded version of the existing Code for individuals, incorporating some of the guidance on professionalism and ethics previously helpfully developed (with GOC engagement) by the College of Optometrists and the ABDO, plus new requirements flowing from the government response to the Francis Report.

In taking this forward, we fully share the GOC’s commitment to the principles of good regulation and the GOC’s aim to make the standards as clear, proportionate and ‘fit for purpose’ as possible and, as far as is possible, future-proof in the context of rapidly evolving technologies and modalities of care.

We have helpfully seen Optical Confederation partners’ comments which in large part we agree with. In particular we agree that

• the standards are too detailed, repetitive and in some cases over the top
• the communications elements should be combined into something simpler (rather than three separate standards)
• the standards should relate to peer practice not best practice which only a minority can achieve at any given time
• the standards should not replicate NHS contract requirements
• the ‘duty of candour’ (if it goes forward in these standards at all ) must make clear that an apology is a sign of normal human sympathy in distressing circumstances and not an admission of legal liability for anything that may have occurred in the practice or elsewhere
• the standards do not apply at all times or to all registrants. Many do not apply to employees or locums and these should be prefaced by “should use their best endeavours to” or otherwise caveated
• practitioners can only be held responsible for their own actions (or those they are supervising) and what is within their power eg they cannot be responsible for checking that all their colleagues (eg supervisors, managers, peers are properly trained), only those for whom they are directly responsible for managing or supervising
• individual registrants should not be accountable for things that only their employer or engager can control – this should be made clear in the rubric
• conducting an assessment of a patient’s “personal beliefs, and psychological, social and cultural factors” would be intrusive for patients and inappropriate for optometrists or dispensing opticians who are not trained in these areas
• registrants should only be required to be aware of the legal requirements for the country they are working in not the whole UK
• the standards should not apply to students (other than pre-registration optometrists and dispensing opticians in training) whose practice and conduct whilst in education are regulated, as for all students, by their universities.

With regard to developing and introducing standards for individuals in advance of those for businesses, we understand and share the GOC’s well-argued reasons for this.

We also understand where our AOP and ABDO colleagues are coming from but believe their fears to be unfounded. The caveats and qualifiers suggested above should be sufficient to protect individuals from egregious action by the regulator and, if not, would be challengeable on grounds of unreasonableness.

Moreover, the Code of Conduct for business registrants already applies to registered bodies corporate and will continue to do so. If necessary the cross-linking references in that code to the “Code for Individual Registrants” (Clauses 2 and 3) could simply be replaced with the words ‘Standards of Practice’, a change FODO would support without further consultation.

We have attempted in our attached draft to respond to the GOC’s consultation questions. It is regrettable that they only provide for simple yes/no responses which will inevitably misrepresent the views of respondents.

FODO’s response in most cases is ‘we agree but’. However we have felt obliged by the binary format to respond negatively to most questions to prevent our response being misinterpreted as unqualified support for the standards as drafted. Once amended as we and others have suggested in our responses, the standards will be acceptable.

Where possible, including in our annotated draft of the standards (also attached), we have attempted to suggest forms of words which would improve the standard and be acceptable to our members. We hope this is helpful and would be keen to continue to be involved in finalising the drafting to get this right.

We encourage all registrants and our members to take the opportunity to respond to this consultation. If you would like to contact us directly to feed into the FODO response,contact Arielle Nylander at

Read FODO’s revised draft guidelines here

Alistair Burt MP has been appointed as Minister of State with responsibility for Primary Care

May 2015

New Primary Care Minister appointed including ophthalmic services, in the post-election cabinet reshuffle.

Mr Burt assumes the title of Community and Social Care Minister and is one of three new health ministers to be appointed following Earl Howe’s move to the Ministry of Defence and the loss of the Liberal Democrat members of the government.

Mr Burt is currently MP for North East Bedfordshire. He has previously held ministerial roles in the Department of Communities and Local Government, and the Department of Social Security, and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Jenny Gowen, the Optical Confederation’s Head of Public Affairs said: “We look forward to working with Mr Burt and his colleagues to ensure that eye health is high on their agenda and the potential for community optical practices to play an increased role in delivering more services in primary care is fully understood.”

Mr Burt’s role will be:

Primary Care, including Dentistry and Ophthalmic Services:
GP Contract Reform. Out of Hours Reform, Pharmacy, Primary Care Commissioning Policy, Older People, Local Government.
Adult Social Care: Funding Reform, Legislation, Finance, Workforce, Regulation, Care Homes, Mental Health, Integration
Physical and Learning Disabilities, Autism,

The other new recruits to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt’s team are:

Ben Gummer MP, Care Quality Minister and David Prior (who will be made a member of the House of Lords), NHS Productivity Minister.

Gummer’s full responsibilities will be:

Secondary Care Commissioning Policy, Hospital Care, Maternity Care, End of Life Care, Failing Hospitals, including: Special Measures. Trust Special Administration
Patient Experience, including, Patient Choice, Ombudsman and Complaints, Friends and Family Test, Patient Reported Outcome Measures, NHS Constitution, Patient Safety
Prior’s role as new NHS Productivity Minister will be:
NHS England, Overall Commissioning Policy and Clinical Commissioning Groups, NHS Mandate and NHS Outcomes Framework, NHS operations and performance, Elective and Emergency
Ambulance Services, NHS 111, Winter Planning, Urgent Care, Economic Regulation, NHS and DH Finance, NHS Efficiency

Jane Ellison MP remains as Public Health Minister and George Freeman MP remains as Life Sciences Minister.

Her full responsibilities are listed as follows:

Diabetes, Dementia, Health Protection, (including: Emergency Preparedness), Vaccination, Health Improvement, including: Tobacco & Alcohol, Obesity, Physical Activity, Drugs, Addiction to Medicines.
Prevention measures, including: Preventing Avoidable Mortality, NHS health checks, Children’s Health and School Nursing, Health Visiting, Fluoridation, Fertility and Embryology, Sexual Health, Long-Term Conditions,

Another new incumbent but shared with BIS is George Freeman – Life Sciences Minister (joint with BIS)
His role includes:

Genomics, Genetics, Regenerative Medicine
Data and Technology, including: NHS IT, Data to Support Innovation, Tele-health/Care, Cyber Security.
Uptake of New Drugs and Med Tech, including: Adaptive Licensing, Early Access, Cancer Drugs Fund

Help and Advice for Manchester contractors is at hand from OC

May 2015
Join the Optical Confederation representative bodies to discuss the forthcoming review of GOS claims in Greater Manchester via MIAA

As Merseyside members will know, the Optical Confederation representative bodies – the FODO, AOP and ABDO – are working closely together to assist contractors in that region faced with reviews of GOS claims by MIAA.

MIAA will shortly be commencing work in the Greater Manchester area. The Optical Confederation CEOs and members of our teams, would like to meet as many contactors and practitioners as possible to talk about the situation and discuss with you how we as a sector are and should be addressing it.

For practitioners, Trevor Warburton will be making a presentation on avoiding GOS reclaims which carries CET accreditation.


1800-1900 – gathering and refreshments
1900-1945 – OC discussion and questions
1945-2045 – Making Accurate Claims – Avoiding GOS Reclaims

This is a sector-wide problem which affects us all – large and small, business owners and staff - and which none of us can afford to ignore.

Alan Tinger, Ann Blackmore and I will be there and we hope as many FODO members as possible will be able to attend.

Research journal’s 90th anniversary celebrated at ARVO 2015

May 2015

ARVO 2015, held in the US city of Denver in May, provided the setting for a celebration of 90 years of Ophthalmic and Physiological Optics (OPO), the research journal of the College of Optometrists.
OPO is now the top optometry journal in the world, with a journal impact factor of 2.66 and ranked 13th in the top 58 international ophthalmology, optometry and vision science journals.

ARVO Research JournalSpeaking at a special event to mark the OPO’s 90th anniversary, Professor Ed Mallen MCOptom, said: “OPO has played a key role in my career and my development as a researcher - from PhD student to professor of physiological optics at Bradford University. As Chair of the College of Optometrists’ Research Committee and a member of the OPO Steering Group, it was wonderful to have the chance to thank all of those who have contributed to the success of OPO over the years, and to welcome future contributors to the journal.”

Professor David Elliott MCOptom, OPO’s Editor-in-Chief, added: “OPO provides important evidence-based information about the assessment and management of patients, and is especially relevant to hospital optometrists and those with specialist interests. “Many editions are themed and have focussed on key areas such as vision and IT displays, binocular vision and glaucoma, and we also publish invited review papers from top researchers in their fields.”

The latest issue of the bimonthly journal, published in May, aptly included an editorial which offered an historical review of optometry research and its publication, alongside articles on S3D movies and visual discomfort; the effect of light levels on myopia; the quality of diagnostic accuracy studies; and corneal power change after refractive surgery.

Mike Bowen, the College’s Director of Research, said: “We are incredibly proud that OPO is a trusted source of knowledge for eye health practitioners, researchers and academics worldwide. It seemed appropriate to celebrate this anniversary at ARVO, the world’s largest annual gathering of eye and vision researchers. OPO is read by, and influences the work of, many researchers around the world, and really helps cement the UK’s position as one of the leading authorities on vision research.”

College to use innovative filmed scenarios at peer discussion event in Windsor

May 2015

In an exciting approach to peer discussion, the College will host an event in Windsor next month which uses filmed ethical scenarios.

Delegates will watch different cases acted out on screen before discussing them with colleagues. The discussions are supported by a trained facilitator and will cover: confidentiality; wrong prescription; and a poorly performing colleague.

This peer discussion event, taking place at Beaumont Estate, Windsor, on 3 June, gives delegates the chance to earn three interactive CET points covering the following competencies: communication, professional conduct, and ocular examination.

Peer discussion facilitator and College member, Bhavna Patel MCOptom, said: “These filmed peer discussions capture the essence of the case study quickly. This style of event is more interactive and involves the whole cohort, and as the saying goes, ‘a picture paints a thousand words!’."

The filmed peer discussion session follows a buffet and a chance to network with other optometrists from the region.

GOC meeting report

May 2015

Public perceptions research

New research commissioned by the General Optical Council (GOC) has shown high levels of confidence in, and satisfaction with, opticians among the public. However it also showed that opticians are seen as playing a narrow role in testing sight and improving vision rather than improving eye health more generally.
The independent research found that 96 per cent of those who had been to the opticians in the past two years were either very satisfied or fairly satisfied with their overall experience of opticians.
A further 92 per cent of respondents were confident of receiving a high standard of care from opticians. This was higher than for GPs (88 per cent) and dentists (87 per cent), but slightly lower than for pharmacists (94 per cent).

The research did find, however, that GPs are seen as the main port of call when individuals experience acute eye problems, such as something in their eye, a red eye or blurred vision.

Just 19 per cent said that they would consult an optician first compared with 54 per cent who would turn to their GP, ten per cent who would consult a pharmacist and five per cent who would go to Accident and Emergency.

Research agency ComRes independently carried out the research, conducting a telephone survey of 2,250 UK adults to explore public perceptions of opticians and how they are regulated. The report also highlights differences in views across the four nations of the UK where these are statistically significant.

GOC Director of Strategy Alistair Bridge said: “It is very pleasing to see from our research that the public are confident of receiving a high standard of care from opticians and that the vast majority of people have never had a reason to complain.
“The survey also shows a low level of public awareness of the role that opticians play in detecting eye health problems as opposed to improving vision. With only around a third of people associating opticians with detecting eye health problems and less than one in five saying they would turn first to their optician with an acute eye problem, there is clearly an opportunity to raise awareness of the roles that optometrists and dispensing opticians play in improving the UK’s eye health and a need to address the barriers to them making a greater contribution in the future.”

OCCS reports high public satisfaction rates

May 2015

Council received the annual report for 2014/15 from the Optical Consumer Complaints Service (OCCS), reflecting the first year that Nockolds have been running the service on the GOC’s behalf. The report showed widespread satisfaction with the OCCS’ process, being rated 9 out of 10 by respondents to a survey. The respondents also rated their satisfaction with the outcome of the mediation process as 7.8 out of 10.

The OCCS reached a resolution in over 98 per cent of cases that it dealt with. 90 per cent of concluded enquiries were dealt with within 45 days, with 99 per cent within 52 days and 100 per cent within 90 days.

The report revealed that the OCCS received 622 enquiries regarding optical consumer complaints between April 2014 and 31 March 2015. GOC Director of Fitness to Practise, Lisa Davis, said “It is very encouraging to see the positive start Nockolds have had in the first year of their service and that consumers have been so satisfied with their mediation process. The OCCS is extremely important to ensure that complaints raised by members of the public, patients and practitioners are satisfactorily concluded. We have seen the benefits of this with a resolution in over 98 per cent of all cases.

“We look forward to working further with Nockolds and in particular starting to gain insight into why complaints arise and escalate, as well as learning from trends that we have begun to track through the comprehensive data regularly provided by the service”.

The OCCS mediates all consumer complaints raised by members of the public, patients and optical professionals or practices regulated by the GOC. Nockolds Solicitors deliver the service for the GOC under a three year contract, which started on 1 April 2014.

Office move

May 2015

Council were presented with an update on the upcoming building move from 41 Harley Street to the Farringdon area of London. It was noted that contractors are scheduled to begin work fitting out the property towards the end of May, with a provisional move in date of mid-August. The GOC will surrender its lease on its current premises, a converted house on Harley Street, which it has occupied since 1958.

Further details of the building move can be found at

Other news

Council announced the appointment of new members of its Hearings Panel. The new members will begin their terms from July 2015. For full details of the appointments, please visit:

Council also noted the provisional outturn for the year ended 31 March 2015 and considered the fees to be paid to external auditors for their independent audit of the 2014/15 accounts.

Council will next meet on 29 July 2015.

The Council currently registers around 26,000 optometrists, dispensing opticians, student opticians and optical businesses.

FODO celebrates 30 years of success, leadership and growth whilst convening their AGM on 12th May at Gloucester Terrace

May 2015

Chair, Lynda Oliver, gave a rousing address and welcomed new members. She also awarded life membership to FODO founder member Mike Barton and his son Peter. Graham Ackers, regrettably stepping down, was also recognised for his long service to the Board and as Chair of the sector’s Optical Vouchers Consultative Committee.

Lynda OliverGiles Smith, of Haine and Smith Opticians, was elected to the Board as a new SME Director whilst William Stockdale was co-opted to the Board as Chair of FODO Northern Ireland. Both are dispensing opticians and run SME and independent practices reflecting the breadth and inclusiveness of FODO membership and preserving the ‘whole sector’ balance of the Board.

Frank Norville OBE, father of the sector and former chairman of the Federation of Manufacturing Opticians (FMO), addressed the AGM on major issues facing manufacturers and retailers today. (see later report)

FODO members were also pleased to also welcome the new FMO Chief Executive Kevin Gutsell to the event and to reaffirm their support to manufacturers as key strategic partners in care and innovation.

FODO Chair Lynda Oliver said: “It has been wonderful to celebrate 30 years since FODO was formed out of our three predecessor bodies, all of which were committed to delivering the best in eye care for everyone, just as we are today. Each of those 30 years has been more successful than the last for FODO and for our members, and 2014 was no exception. We have expanded our reach, services, intellectual and analytical capacity = better to serve members and the whole sector - whist reducing our fees to protect the front-line. In a time of massive change we thank goodness we have FODO and the Optical Confederation looking out for eye health, our patients and our sector.”

FODO Chief Executive David Hewlett said: “We stand of course on the shoulders of giants but we are never complacent and never satisfied for the sector or for our patients. Our purpose is always to look ahead and to help FODO, FODO Ireland and NCHA members, and the wider sector to see the future, plan for it and thrive. That is our commitment, to do the best for each and every one of our members, our market leading insurance and our ruthless pursuit of efficiency and value, are the reasons our membership continues to grow and our members - be they large, SME, independent or individual members – grow and flourish with us.”

FODO also rewards longstanding members for their contribution to UK optics whilst welcoming new faces to the Board

May 2015

Mike Barton Chair from 1993 to 95 expressed his thanks for his lifetime award and reflected on the days when FODO was formed as the FOCB on the instigation of Dick Harris and the coming together of the Guild, the Society of Opticians and the Co-op. The catalyst for this was the Pricing Investigation into the sector. Other catalysts provided the reason for the FOCB to morph into FODO as it is now such as the dramatic win and payback on VAT on dispensing. Now still more opportunities as well as threats pose an issue which have brought a fragmented optics sector closer together than at any time previous in the form of the Optical Confederation.

FODO Chair’s Speech highlights disappointment in “Call to Action” progress but tells audience with FODO as a key player we can “all stay calm”

May 2015

“As a sector we certainly face our share of challenges. “Said Lynda Oliver. In England the green shoots of the Call to Action - into which we all put so much effort - appear to have been steamrollered flat by the juggernaut of the Five Year Forward View.

We all know that what we need is a good, flexible, simple and safe NHS IT system to link us all up. But I very much fear that instead of a sensible rebuilding and networking of primary care to keep people well, independent and out of hospital, we may once again see public money - £200m, the equivalent of the NHS sight testing budget - being spent on structural models –

• either horizontal integration through ‘federations’

• or vertical integration between hospitals, primary care and social care

I certainly hope that we learn from previous experience and that this will not be the case.

But if our fears our realised, at least through all of this FODO – as a key part of the Optical Confederation and active in all five countries – is helping us negotiate these rapids with a quick twist on the rudder here or pushing us off the rocks there - to try to help the sector get safely through to calmer waters.

This will be a big part of what FODO is involved in in the coming year - not to mention a completely new system of regulation in the republic of Ireland and a national commissioning framework for hearing care. Our staff will certainly have their work cut out.

Wales Vision Strategy reception celebrates success

May 2015

A reception to celebrate the successes of the first year of the Wales Vision Strategy Implementation Plan 2014-18, was held today, Tuesday 12 May 2015 at the Senedd.

The Wales Vision Strategy Implementation Plan focuses on three outcome areas which include:

• everyone in Wales looks after their eyes and sight
• everyone with an eye condition receives timely treatment and early and appropriate services and support are available should sight loss occur
• help facilitate a society in which people with sight loss can fully participate.

Key achievements

The Welsh Government Eye Health Care Delivery Plan is now in its second year of implementation. The first public health campaign to increase awareness of eye health took place in April 2015 focusing on acute eyecare.

Wales Council of the Blind worked with partners to build a portal to help blind and partially sighted people find out about all the services which are available to them across Wales.
The Eye Clinic Liaison Officer (ECLO) Service supported 4,000 patients across Wales. A study highlighted that for every £1 investment in the ECLO service, there is a net return of £10.57 to health and social care budgets.

RNIB Cymru’s new partnership project supported by the Big Lottery was launched on 12 February 2015, the services has already supported 300 people with sensory loss.

Ceri Jackson, Chair of the Wales Vision Strategy Implementation Group and Director of RNIB Cymru, Lesley-Anne Alexander, Chair of the UK Vision Strategy Implementation Group and CEO of RNIB, were joined by Deputy Minister for Health Vaughan Gething at this reception event to celebrate the successes, and ongoing work of the Vision Strategy.

Ceri Jackson, Director of RNIB Cymru, said: “I’m delighted with the progress we have made in Wales this year, working in partnership enables us to support more people, share resources and expertise.

I would like to thank our partners for their support in developing our objectives for 2015/16, and we will continue to focus on the three main outcomes with an increased emphasis on accessibility and inclusive environments.

This reception celebrates some of the innovative work which has been delivered by partners over the past year, and sets out the targets for the year ahead. The objectives are ambitious, and we know there will be challenges to overcome, but the joined up working across government, partners and professionals has shown that we can achieve real change.”
Mr Gething said: "This event provides an opportunity to recognise the skill and dedication of all the professionals in Wales - including optometrists, ophthalmologists, orthoptists, dispensing opticians, social care, rehabilitation officers and our third sector partners.

"It also provides an opportunity to build on our knowledge of eye care services, to share our experience with other colleagues and to learn more about future developments and services in Wales. I would like to thank all key stakeholders both for the work they do in providing services and support to people, but also for their contributions to the development of the Wales Vision Strategy Implementation Plan which I am confident will build on progress to date, to ensure delivery of high quality services, care and support for people across Wales."

AOP reports 5% membership increase in 2014

May 2015

The Association of Optometrists (AOP) has reported a 5% increase in members across its paid membership grades, with nearly 16,000 members at the end of 2014. The Association’s Annual Report 2015 also highlights the AOP’s 99% membership retention rate. Membership growth increases the Association’s representative strength and the ability to build on the already highly valued and used member services package.

2014 was one of the busiest years on record for the Association’s in-house legal, clinical and regulatory team, with the 11-strong team dealing with more than 3,000 member enquiries. In response to feedback from members, the AOP developed its sell-out programme of regional peer review and legal roadshows around the UK in 2014. The Association also reports on the importance of promoting members’ interests and the profession to government, the media and the general public.

AOP Chief Executive, Henrietta Alderman, said: “The UK optical profession is changing rapidly and our members require the AOP to help shape the sector and positively affect their working lives. The commitment to protect, support and represent our individual members has always been at the heart of what we do and 2014 was no exception. Representing members continues to be high on our agenda, and we work with stakeholders to ensure our members’ voices are heard at a national level.”

npower business
Primary Health Net