Primary Health Net
Visit our Public Information Site
Go to my LOC site
charity clinical briefing Mainline Con

Opchat Magazine Professional Matters PagesProfessional Matters News, October-December 2015

AIO confirms Opchat PHN as media partners for 2016.

Two new optometrists appointed to the GOC Investigation Committee.

No ‘shortfall’ period at end of GOC CET cycle.

New GOC office set to open on 1 December.

Optical Confederation backs World Antibiotics Awareness Week.

DOCET launches latest addition to CET

GOC Council meets in Farringdon.

College of Optometrists urges members to check their points and be aware of the new CET changes for 2016-18.

College of Optometrists celebrates sector’s most talented researchers at its annual Diploma Ceremony.

David Parkins appointed to GOC Council.

College calls for nominations to Council.

GOC publishes new Standards of Practice.

New College of Optometrists Fellowships recognise outstanding contributions to optometry

The Westminster Health Forum last week provided a thought provoking experience about “Improving eye care in England”

OPTICAL BODIES backs Regulator's call for Cataract Care in High Street

New AOP Council announced after Election Results

GOC issues CET deadline reminder to registrants

First GOC hearings set for new Farringdon offices


AIO confirms Opchat PHN as media partners for 2016.

December 2015

AIO LogoIn the media appointment PHN has confirmed it will publish the AIO page information which can be found under the title" Independent Practice Support" in the Suppliers Guide tab at the top of every page.

"We welcome the AIO as a practice support organistaion and hope that providiing a platform for them will help them continue to grow in membership following their successful conference this year." Said Bob Hutchinson PHN Director.

"The Association for Independent Optometrists and Dispensing Opticians (AIO) is the only professional body that solely represents the interests of Independents and is therefore uniquely placed to take up the challenge of promoting the sector." Explained Pat Cameron, AIO Secretary. "Having the contact information and our generic page in front of the PHN professional readership should help our continued growth."

The AIO page also explains how its members can utilise the free "Specialty Listing" on PHN's public site where they can also announce AIO membership, which will become searchable by the public in the "Find My Optician" app.

View the AIO page here.

Check out the Find My Optician Guidelines on how to "Claim your practice" details online.


Two new optometrists appointed to the GOC Investigation Committee

December 2015

The General Optical Council (GOC) has appointed two new optometrists to its Investigation Committee (IC). Richard Greenwood and Kalpana Theophilus, both optometrists, joined the committee on 1 December 2015.

Richard Greenwood is an optometrist practising in a large multiple leading a team of clinicians. He has worked developing pre-registration optometrists within distance learning, tutorial and workshop settings.

He was Boots’ optician of the year for 2013 and has had regional roles developing and regulating clinical teams, developing shared initiatives, clinical audit and complaint resolution.

Kalpana has over 27 years’ experience as a primary care optometrist in both High Street practice and laser clinics. She is engaged with the pre-registration optometrist programme as a supervisor, assessor and OSCE examiner.

In June 2015 she successfully completed a degree in law, focusing in particular on medical litigation and employment law.

Gareth Hadley, GOC Chair, said: “Investigation Committee plays a vital role in enabling us to uphold confidence in the profession and protect the public. Doing this relies on us appointing high calibre members such as Richard and Kalpana; I’m very confident that they are two excellent appointees.”

IC sits alongside the GOC’s Case Examiners and considers cases either when a health or performance assessment is required, or if the GOC’s case examiners cannot agree on a decision.

Then IC considers allegations about registrants and decides whether further action is required – for example closing the case, issuing a warning or, in the most serious cases, referral for a fitness to practise hearing.

No ‘shortfall’ period at end of GOC CET cycle.

November 2015

The GOC is today reminding registrants that there is no ‘shortfall’ period at the end of the CET cycle, meaning registrants must meet all of their requirements by 31 December.
In past cycles, registrants who did not meet their CET requirements had until the following March to meet their shortfall.
Marcus Dye, GOC Head of Education and Standards, said: “When we introduced new CET rules for the 2013-15 cycle we removed the ‘shortfall’ period as many registrants and stakeholders found it confusing to effectively have two deadlines.
“I would urge all registrants to log into MyCET and check they have met their requirements. Those who have not should now take urgent action to ensure they meet all of their CET requirements by 31 December. Those who do not do so may be removed from our registers and be unable to practise in the UK.”
The GOC also recently reminded registrants to accept their ‘pending’ points in MyCET in order to ensure they count.
The GOC office closes for Christmas on 24 December 2015, so the regulator is recommending that all registrants meet their CET requirements by then to ensure that support will be available if needed.
There are still 4,004 registrants, around 19 per cent of fully-qualified registrants, who need to meet their CET requirements before the deadline.

New GOC office set to open on 1 December

November 2015

The General Optical Council (GOC) will open its new offices in Farringdon on Tuesday 1 December 2015.

Staff will be moving from Friday 27 November to Monday 30 November, during which time the office will be closed. Telephone support will be unavailable during this time.

Samantha Peters, GOC Chief Executive and Registrar, said: “We’re now ready to move into our new home in Farringdon which will bring enormous benefits to the organisation and, in turn, our ability to protect the public. We’ve successfully completed all of the necessary testing and from 1 December Farringdon will be our new home.”

Because of the need to move and install IT equipment, the MyGOC and MyCET sections of the GOC website will be closed during that time.

Registrants who wish to use the CET directory to find courses should therefore do so by Thursday 26 November, as after then it will not then be available until Tuesday 1 December. The GOC register will not be updated between Thursday 26 November and Tuesday 1 December.

The new building will bring benefits including the ability to hold hearings, Council and other meetings, and training in-house; a more modern working environment; improved IT infrastructure; and improved accessibility, especially for wheelchair users and people with sight loss.

Fitness to practise hearings have been held in the new offices since October and the GOC’s Council met there for the first time on 11 November.

The GOC’s new address will be 10 Old Bailey, London, EC4M 7NG. Its telephone number, 020 7580 3898, remains unchanged.

Optical Confederation backs World Antibiotics Awareness Week.

November 2015

The Optical Confederation has joined a worldwide call against the danger of unnecessary use of antibiotics.

Optical professionals are being encouraged to pledge that “primary care optometrists are committed to safe prescribing-supporting #AntibioticGuardian.”

The website will then create an attention-grabbing ‘thunderclap’ by simultaneously posting the pledges on the social media accounts of all those who signed up at 11am on Monday 30 November.

The WHO and UK government have recently warned that overuse of antibiotics can lead to drug resistant strains of disease that mean even routine treatments will become increasingly dangerous.

The initiative has been launched to coincide with European Antibiotic Awareness Day on 18 November 2015, and this year also sees the first ever UN World Antibiotic Awareness Week from 16-22 November.

All UK optometrists have access to some therapeutics to enable them to manage minor eye conditions whilst Independent Prescriber (IP) optometrists can prescribe any licensed medicine, except for controlled drugs or injected medicines, to treat the eye and surrounding tissues (within their recognised area of expertise and competence).

Chair of the Optical Confederation, Chris Hunt said: "As optical professionals we will continue to play our part promoting safe antibiotic prescribing.

“All optometrists can prescribe certain antibiotics, and a growing number have achieved Independent Prescriber status to offer a higher level of additional support to private and some NHS patients.

“There is a growing role for such work as local eye health providers increasingly support hospital and GP colleagues by delivering enhanced NHS services within the community.

All optometrists can supply fucithalmic & chloramphenicol antibiotic drops & ointment for topical application to the eye. IP optometrists can also prescribe systemic antibiotics to treat certain conditions as well as a much wider range of topical antibiotics.

“The #AntibioticGuardian initiative not only protects future generations of patients but also highlights the growing role IP optometrists can play in the modern NHS."

To sign up to the online pledge visit

DOCET launches latest addition to CET

November 2015

DOCET new CETDOCET launches The Ageing Eye: Refractive Correction for Older Patients - the latest addition to its free CET materials for UK optometrists.

DOCET (the Directorate of Optometric Continuing Education and Training) has launched the latest module in its Ageing Eye Series; Refractive Correction for Older People.

The programme is a blend of filmed scenarios of patients and expert advice, and looks at the various options of refractive correction available for presbyopes. Four areas are considered;

• spectacle frames and lenses

• contact lenses

• correction with intra-ocular lenses

• managing presbyopic patients following refractive laser surgery.

Philippa Shaw, DOCET Training Adviser says; ‘Optometrists are able to offer an increasing number of options to older patients. Using scenarios based on situations commonly encountered in practice and presentations by experts, this new programme aims to help optometrists update their knowledge and communicate effectively with patients when discussing their various needs, in order to provide appropriate, high quality eye care.’
The Ageing Eye: Refractive Correction for Older Patients is now available on

The programme offers three interactive CET points and covers competencis in Ocular Disease, Contact Lenses, Optical Appliances, Communication, Assessment of Visual Function

The module must be completed and submitted to DOCET by 12 noon on Wednesday 2 December 2015 in order to gain points for the current CET cycle.

GOC Council meets in Farringdon

November 2015

The Council met at the GOC’s new offices in Farringdon for the first time.

All future Council meetings will be held at the new offices, as will other meetings that the regulator had to previously hold off-site.

Fitness to practise hearings have been in Farringdon since October.

Samantha Peters, GOC Chief Executive and Registrar, announced that the GOC hopes staff will move to the office on Tuesday 1 December – although with the caveat that this remains subject to the successful testing of IT equipment next week.

Samantha Peters said, “Today is an important landmark for the GOC, and so will 1 December be when, subject to IT testing, our staff move in and Farringdon becomes our new home. The more modern working environment, improved accessibility, better IT infrastructure and greater meeting room capacity will all be of great benefit to our ability to work effectively in protecting the public.”

Council approves £10 increase in GOC fees

Council has agreed a £10 increase in the GOC registration fee, making the fee for optometrists, dispensing opticians and bodies corporate £320.
Student registration fees have been frozen at £25 and the £100 discount for practitioners on low incomes remains in place.

Gareth Hadley, GOC Chair, said, “The 3.2% increase will ensure we have sufficient resources to carry out our regulatory functions, while limiting the strain that fees place on registrants.

“Inflation is naturally part of the reason for the increase, but it is also born out of a commitment to longer-term planning to ensure ongoing financial stability.
The £10 increase builds in a contingency for eventualities such as a further increase in complaint numbers or particularly complex cases. It will also allow us to continue the implementation of our new Standards of Practice and consult thoroughly on new business standards. We must also bear the costs of more visits to education institutions and a levy to the Professional Standards Authority (PSA) of around £3.50 per registrant."

CET update

Council received an update on the end of the current CET cycle and arrangements for removing registrants who do not meet their CET requirements from the registers.

Unlike previous CET cycles, there will be no three month ‘shortfall’ period so all registrants must ensure that they meet their CET requirements by 31 December 2015 to avoid being removed from the register and being unable to practise.

Latest figures show that around 5,500 registrants still need to meet their CET requirements so they need to take immediate action in order to remain on the register in 2016.

The GOC also announced some changes for the 2016-18 CET cycle.

A new CET competency called ‘Standards of Practice’ will replace the current ‘Professional Conduct’ competency, ensuring that all registrants have to do one piece of CET relevant to the GOC’s new standards.

The GOC is also introducing some changes to the MyCET online system linked to the requirement to do CET on the new standards of practice. When registrants first log in in 2016 they will have to declare that they have read and understood the new Standards of Practice.

Registrants will also need to complete a reflective statement whenever they accept CET points in MyCET, to enable them to better reflect on their practice and how they will apply their learning. This step had only previously been necessary for peer review or peer discussion CET.

Discussion of voluntary code of practice for online contact lens sellers

Council discussed the GOC’s consultation on a voluntary Code of Practice for online contact lens sellers.

The GOC will further consider some of the issues raised and discuss them with stakeholders, so now plans to present the Code for final consideration in February. The GOC consulted on the draft Code from August to October.

Whistleblowing policy consultation

Council approved a draft whistleblowing policy which the GOC launched a consultation on today. The policy sets out how the GOC will handle disclosures from workers in the optical sector which may raise public interest concerns. The policy covers the protection that the GOC will afford to whistleblowers.

The consultation will run from 12 November 2015 to 21 January 2016, with the final policy set for publication in March 2016. The GOC is encouraging a wide range of stakeholders to give their feedback during the consultation period.

The consultation is available from


Council received an update on the implementation of the GOC’s new standards, which it published on 29 October 2015.

All registrants will receive paper copies with their retention packs, and must declare that they have read and will abide by the standards when they complete their annual retention in the New Year.

The new standards come into effect from 1 April 2016 and are available at

Other news

Council also approved a new Gifts and Hospitality Policy, considered the next year’s business plan and received the 2015 Optical Sector Report, outlining changes and developments in the professions over the last 12 months.

Gareth Hadley paid tribute to outgoing Council member Rob Hogan. The meeting was Rob’s last before his term ends on 31 December 2015.

Gareth Hadley said, “Rob has had a long and distinguished career in optics and we are grateful for his contributions over the years. In particular he has done sterling work over the last year as Council champion for our project to tackle illegal practice, drawing together and leading our stakeholder steering group. We are immensely grateful for his work on this and everything else in his eight years at the GOC."

David Parkins (the current President of the College of Optometrists) will replace Rob on the Council on 15 March 2016

College of Optometrists urges members to check their points and be aware of the new CET changes for 2016-18

November 2015

The College is reminding members that any optometrist who hasn’t met the GOC’s minimum requirements will be automatically removed from the register after 1 January, and will need to go through a restoration process to be reinstated.

The College is also urging all members to check their MyGOC accounts to ensure that they have completed all the CET they need, and accept any pending points.

Members can find the GOC’s minimum requirements for the cycle on the College website at

The College is also looking ahead at the GOC’s requirements for the next cycle.

Its Head of CPD, Lucy Joseph, said: “While ensuring members are focussing on meeting the requirements for the end of the current CET cycle, we are also looking ahead to changes coming into effect with the start of the new cycle, from 1 January 2016 to be able to give the best advice and support to our members and ensure that our CPD provision enables them to meet the new requirements in full.

In the main, the minimum requirements will remain broadly the same as for this cycle, but there are a few new elements to be aware of, on standards of practice, reflective learning, and setting personal learning goals.

These involve the implementation of the newly published Standards of Practice, which will replace the current Code of Conduct from April 2016. In the new 2016-18 CET cycle all registrants will be expected to complete at least one piece of CET that relates to the new Standards."

Reflective learning is also being extended – in the current cycle registrants will have been asked to provide a reflection statement when accepting peer discussion/peer review points. In the new cycle, this requirement will apply across all types of CET - so a reflection statement will be needed to accept any CET points on MyGOC.

“Registrants will also need to set at least one personal learning goal for the cycle. They will be directed via MyGOC to a personal development plan (PDP) area where they will be asked to provide information about their current scope of practice and to set an individual learning goal relating to the new Standards of Practice.”

To help implement this change, the GOC is replacing the current Professional Conduct competency with a new Standards of Practice competency. This change will only apply to fully qualified optometrists.

The College will be providing lots of information and support to help its members understand what they need to do in the new CET cycle, as well as events and learning resources to ensure members can meet all their requirements in 2016-18.

College of Optometrists celebrates sector’s most talented researchers at its annual Diploma Ceremony

November 2015

college diplomas for researchersThe College of Optometrists has recognised the achievements of the most talented researchers working in the field at its annual Diploma Ceremony at the Central Hall in Westminster, London on Tuesday. Four individuals and a research team were presented with a College Research Excellence Award in recognition of their outstanding contribution to vision science, eye health care and to the profession.

Dr Hema Radhakrishnan MCOptom, received the Neil Charman Medal for Research, the most prestigious of the five awards, for her pioneering work on ocular accommodation and collagen cross linking. She said: “I was delighted to receive the Neil Charman medal for research. The Research Excellence Awards recognise the outstanding research that is done by College members. It was amazing to see so many excellent researchers from across the globe being handed these awards and Life Fellowships. On the day, when the streets around Westminster were lined with poppies, we had our own affirmation of how we are able to see much further in our profession by standing on the shoulders of giants."

Professor Carly Siu-Yin Lam MCOptom accepted the Bernard Gilmartin OPO Award on behalf of Chin-Hang Lam, Dr Sam Chi-Kwan Cheng and Dr Lily Yee-Lai Chan for their paper, ‘Prevalence of myopia among Hong Kong Chinese schoolchildren: changes over two decades’. Winners of the award are selected by the OPO editorial board for a highly regarded paper published in Ophthalmic and Physiological Optics (OPO) in the preceding five years.

Dr Laura Sweeney MCOptom received The George Giles Postgraduate Research Prize for outstanding postgraduate research on the effect of 3D displays on binocular visual function.

Dr Peter Campbell MCOptom received The Philip Cole Prize for excellence in practice-based research by College members for his work comparing clinical techniques for anterior chamber angle assessment, and assessing their relative merits for clinical practice.

college diplomas forstudents

And Lynne Speedwell FCOptom’s exceptional contribution to practice in the prescribing of contact lenses to help treat pathological conditions in children was recognised with the Giles Van Colle Memorial Award - awarded in conjunction with the Giles Van Colle Memorial Foundation - for outstanding research or clinical case work relating to paediatric optometry.

The ceremony also welcomed 335 newly qualified optometrists, the highest number to date, to the profession, as well as recognising outstanding achievement through the presentation of Higher Qualifications, Fellowships by Portfolio, Life Fellowships and an Honorary Fellowship.

college diplomas for studentsProfessor Harminder Dua was awarded Honorary Fellowship of the College in recognition of his work in developing the Clinical Council for Eye Health Commissioning in
England as a joint initiative between the College and the Royal College of Ophthalmologists, and establishing it as an important force for change in eye care under his leadership as Chair. We also recognise his role in developing a mutually beneficial relationship between the two Colleges during his presidency of the Royal College of Ophthalmologists.

In his acceptance speech, Professor Dua said: “In one’s professional career, only once in a while comes a moment like this, which makes one feel that it has all been worthwhile. Our teachers and gurus usually show appreciation in abundance. Our students and trainees are profuse in their praise, but to have yours peers to pause and acknowledge your achievements is a rare and humbling honour.

college diplomas for students“It is a special privilege to share this experience with so many of you who will soon rejoice in your success as you receive your diplomas and become members and fellows of this prestigious institution, the College of Optometrists. While you savour this moment and bask in the glory of your success, and rightly so, you must wake up tomorrow and acknowledge the responsibility that this brings. Every generation owes its success to the help and support offered by the previous generation. Every generation owes a debt of gratitude to the previous generation, to your parents and your teachers, which you can only pay back by doing for the next generation, your children and your students what your parents and teachers did for you. Nothing gives them more pleasure and satisfaction than seeing their charges, doing well in society and doing well for society.”

Welcoming the newly qualified optometrists to the profession and to the College, David Parkins, President of the College of Optometrists, said “I would encourage our new members to listen carefully to the experiences of those being recognised for their outstanding achievements here today and use them as exemplars of how to develop a long and successful career, so that in the future you too will be able to make a significant contribution to the profession and practice of optometry.”

David Parkins appointed to GOC Council.

November 2015

Optometrist David Parkins has been appointed as the newest member of the General Optical Council (GOC).

David ParkinDavid will join the GOC Council on 15 March 2016.

GOC Chair Gareth Hadley welcomed the announcement, saying: “I am delighted to welcome David to Council. David’s wealth of experience, both as a practising optometrist and in a number of senior roles in the sector, made him an outstanding candidate to join Council and I look forward to working closely with him.

I am confident his insight and expertise will allow him to make a valuable contribution to our work to protect and promote the public’s health and safety.”

David Parkins said: “The scope of optical practice is changing as a result of new technology, an ageing population and different commissioning arrangements.

It is vital that regulation keeps one step ahead. I am looking forward to working with fellow members of Council, and with the executive team, to promote higher standards across the optical professions, which will be needed to manage the ever increasing number of patients requiring eyecare”.

David is currently the President of the College of Optometrists, as well as Chair of the London Eye Health Network and Chair of the Clinical Council for Eye Health Commissioning.

He is also a member of the Vision 2020 (UK) Ophthalmic Public Health Committee.

The appointment was confirmed by the Privy Council after the Professional Standards Authority (PSA) approved the GOC’s recruitment procedure.

David will replace outgoing Council member Rob Hogan, whose term finishes on 31 December 2015.

College calls for nominations to Council.

November 2015

The College of Optometrists is inviting members to join its Council and help shape the future of the College and the profession.

Nominations are sought from College members and fellows who live or work in the following regions: East Midlands; Eastern; London; North East; North West; Scotland; South East; South West; and Yorkshire and Humber.

Election to College Council gives members the opportunity to represent colleagues, promote their profession and help shape the future of optometry.

Parth Shah MCOptom, Council Member for the Eastern region was elected to College Council in 2015. He explained: “I was seeking an opportunity to influence our profession, add variety to my career, meet new colleagues and attend interesting events. So I nominated myself and was elected one of three Council members for the Eastern region.

“We are consulted on the Board’s recommendations and policies, provide updates on our regions and represent the Council at meetings and events, and sometimes to the media. Being able to input into decisions that shape the profession is highly fulfilling. I thoroughly recommend becoming a Council member. You just need enthusiasm and a desire to contribute.”

Catherine Bithell, Director of Member Services and Communication, added: “Council members are ambassadors for the profession; they bring members’ views directly to the College and provide leadership for their region by participating in local meetings.

“Our Council is responsible for the professional and strategic direction of the College, and I would encourage any member who would like the opportunity to influence that direction, to stand.”

College members can nominate themselves at by 5pm on Friday 13 November 2015. Nominations must be supported by two UK-based practising College members within their region. If a ballot is required in any of the regions, members will be invited to vote at the end of November.

GOC publishes new Standards of Practice.

October 2015

The General Optical Council (GOC) has today published its new Standards of Practice for Optometrists and Dispensing Opticians, and separate new Standards for Optical Students, which will come into effect from 1 April 2016.

The new Standards will replace the existing Code of Conduct for Individual Registrants which apply to both fully qualified practitioners and students.

Samantha Peters, GOC Chief Executive and Registrar said: “We have made important and positive changes to the standards we set for opticians. I urge all registrants to take the time to familiarise themselves with them before they come into force in April next year.

“The Standards have been designed to make clearer what we expect of registrants, and to maintain public protection as the optical professions develop. They also ensure consistency with developments across the healthcare sector, such as a duty to be candid when things have gone wrong.

“The Standards are not a rule book – they give room for registrants to use their professional judgement in deciding how to apply the standards in any given situation. It is therefore vital that all registrants make sure they are confident in applying them to their practice.”

As well as being published on the GOC website, the Standards have been sent to all registrants by email and this will be followed by paper copies being sent through the post in December 2015 as part of their annual retention packs.

During the retention process, registrants will have to declare that they have read and will abide by the Standards. Registrants will also have to complete at least one piece of Continuing Education and Training (CET) on standards as part of the 2016-18 cycle.

The GOC is also updating its Code of Conduct for business registrants to make clear that businesses should support their employees in meeting their obligations under the new Standards.

The new Standards were approved by the GOC Council in July 2015 after a comprehensive consultation exercise which included an online survey of all registrants and a series of focus groups with patients, the public, optometrists, dispensing opticians, students and fitness to practise decision-makers. A full report on the consultation is available on the GOC’s website.

New College of Optometrists Fellowships recognise outstanding contributions to optometry

October 2015

The College of Optometrists has elected three new Life Fellows and a new Honorary Fellow. Fellowship of the College is awarded to individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to the profession or to the College.

The three new Life Fellows of the College are:

Professor Roger Anderson FCOptom, Professor of Vision Science, University of Ulster.
Professor Anderson is recognised for his contribution to vision science, for mentoring other optometrists who wish to make discoveries in vision science, and for his contribution to the development of optometric teaching both in the UK and in Mozambique.

Dr Robert Harper MCOptom, Consultant Optometrist at the Royal Manchester Eye Hospital.
Dr Harper is recognised for his significant contribution to research and to the education and training of optometrists, as well as the key role he played in the development and enhancing of the Manchester Glaucoma Referral Refinement Scheme.

Professor John Flanagan MCoptom, Dean of University of California Berkeley School of Optometry.
Professor Flanagan is recognised for his contribution to research into glaucoma and diabetic eye disease, and to the development of optometric education in the UK and Canada.

The new Honorary Fellow of the College is:

Professor Harminder Dua, Chair and Professor of Ophthalmology at University of Nottingham.

Professor Harminder Dua is recognised for his contribution to developing a mutually beneficial relationship between the College and the Royal College of Ophthalmologists while serving as President of the latter, and his work in developing the Clinical Council for Eye Health Commissioning in England - a joint initiative between the two aforementioned Colleges and an important force for change in eye care, which he chaired.

David Parkins FCOptom, President of the College of Optometrists, said:
''It is always such a pleasure to be able to recognise the hard work and commitment of outstanding eye care professionals through these prestigious College awards. I look forward to congratulating these worthy recipients in person at the Diploma Ceremony in November.”

The awards will be presented at the annual Diploma Ceremony on Tuesday 10 November 2015 in Central London, where the College will also be celebrating the achievements of its members through the award of Higher Diplomas and Research Excellence Awards, and welcoming newly qualified optometrists to the profession.

The Westminster Health Forum last week provided a thought provoking experience about “Improving eye care in England”

October 2015

The topics were aimed to address - commissioning, integration and priorities for preventing eye disease.

The debaters included Samantha Peters CEO and Registrar GOC, David Parkins, Chair for: College, LEHN, and Clinical Council for Eye Health Commissioning from the optometry sector. As well as Claire Roberts an optometrist and Chair of West Midlands LEHN.

The morning was split into two Chairmanships, Lord Low of Dalston taking the early sessions and Dr Tania Mathias MP completing the day. Dr. Mathias probably most well-known for defeating the Rt. Hon Vince Cable MP in recent election.

To kick off the day Dr David Geddes, who seems to be a permanent feature in these events and a very lucid speaker.
David is Head of Primary Care Commissioning NHS England, known by most of us optometric politico and journalist pundits. He reasserted his belief in the 5 year forward plan and the vanguards that have been set up to test and confirm better commissioning around the UK.

He played down the fact that eye care played little or no part in recent documentation on commissioning or within the vanguards. A position that became regularly more challenged throughout the rest of the day.

The background of his speech was of course irrefutable being that an ageing demographic is going to bring great challenges to the NHS and primary care must play its part. This, within an almost insurmountable financial crisis has concentrated the focus especially in eye care, so why is optics rarely mentioned in broad NHS documentation? One might well ask.

In 2025 there is predicted to be 1 million more people in the UK suffering long term eye health disorders. Add this to the already staggering figure of 1% of the community living in care homes let alone the excluded and homeless, that we highlighted last week in PHN (VCHP), who have little or no resource to eye care.

One wonders if a combined primary care force of all agencies is to exist in the UK, what concrete and practical proposals are being put forward.

As Geddes said the problems are all too clear, a health and wellbeing gap, a care and quality gap and a gap in finances.

Yes better IT links might help, yes improving education of all involved in the supply chain would help but an understanding of how our roles fit together appears a key goal in this still unjoined up service.

For those who want to get involved they should go to the vanguards site and express your views on twitter #futureNHS.

Dr Declan Flanagan from Moorfields outlined their outreach centres which he said existed by invitation and not by expansion. Moorfields successfully collect outcome data via Medisoft which has allowed them to identify successes and for that matter the odd failure where they have withdrawn services. He was asked why they did not use the IT resource Open Eyes to which he stated that he believed there was a greater advantage in using different providers to gain quality rather like he insisted Moorfields had no interest in extending their outreach clinics outside its current regional remit.

Mercy Jeyasingham Vision 2020UK and Katrina Venerus LOCSU also contributed to the panel at this point.

David Parkins ably contributed with the standard current optometric line on a “not re-inventing the wheel” approach to commissioning. It was a mixed audience and David delivered his lecture packed with facts that may well have been too obscure to some observers.

It was also too broad and full for the time allowed for it, so we missed what I suspect were the key punch lines due at the end.

Claire Roberts, Chair of the West Midlands LEHN outlined the work they had been doing in the West Midlands outreaching the eye care message to different groups. Unfortunately for her, there was according to the questioner, who was a leading local ophthalmologist in the West Midlands, one person in the room (namely him) who had never heard of the LEHN. Which emphasises the fact that even having made approaches to different sector players this does not mean they pass on the message to the cohort you are trying to influence.

However it opened up a line of questioning by the gathered audience on why if eye care is the second largest attender of outpatients each year (69%) is hardly a word written or read about it in NHS government documentation?

And why is it that the nursing and care role profession, vital in care homes, considers that “they don’t do eyes”? This was mentioned by Professor Janet Marsden from Manchester Ophthalmology and Visual Science and Fellow RCN.

Lord Low ended the first part of the forum with a thought that must have been in many a mind.
Who is championing eye care and commissioning from amongst so many groups who have taken up their line in the sand with what appears to be little compromise?

Professor Harminder Dua from Nottingham and Dr. Waquar Shah, an eye health champion of the RCGP considered that from their roles there was direction and drive. Indeed Shah had done more than many in waking the GP community to their role in raising eye care issues with patients.

Ben Fletcher MD of Boots Opticians considered his company’s role was to expose at an early age to youngsters the importance of eye care not only in health but in literacy which forms a mainstay of the literacy campaign that Boots in launching.

He also fiercely defended the GOS system and said that changing or altering the GOS in England could threaten a highly praised healthcare pattern which he believed had made eye care so much more accessible to the public on the high street.

He embraced new technology but bemoaned that it had to consume so much space in his stores, causing Boots to take space in GP practices in some areas.

He had a view that further regulation from the GOC could damage the flexibility and affordability of providing the service.

Samantha Peters from GOC rebuffed these claims referring to the overwhelming majority of practitioners who when surveyed agreed that they could work within the new regulations, it was only the commercial sector and chain employers who had expressed some disquiet.

The next overview of the GOC will take a look at education as it is today which brought one or two interesting interventions from the floor, not least that the expanding technological revolution was more of an impediment to good primary practice.

Much new equipment was being used as the major indicator for referral without a good understanding of the subjective element of decision making. This especially related to the use of OCTs which were providing an increasing large volume of unnecessary or even misunderstood referrals to secondary care.

Further questions followed from the floor mainly aimed at Ben Fletcher’s stance on the GOS and his company’s use of adjusting the private sight care charges to stimulate business and the standard old chestnut on receiving a higher fee from the NHS than sometimes being charged for a private test.
I suppose one might ask which approach is most customer centric and most likely to achieve the aims of hte forum?

The Westminster Health Forum is to be congratulated by devising a programme that having allowed the professions and third sector to state its case earlier on in the forum creating a far greater scrutiny and assessment of what lies under the stones in the latter part of the forum.

Each group feels it knows what is needed to reduce sight loss but has failed to find at this point the right talking shop with the right champion to pull as one for better promotion of the cause.

Maybe that is the question to move forward and review. Is there an honest broker available who could provide neutral chairmanship and accommodation with an interest in vision but with no previous bias with any stakeholder? Such a body should also control and provide the public affairs, PR and become the champion for better eye care. Maybe this is what Vision 2020 UK was supposed to provide but does it have the power to create compromise amongst all the sector players?

OPTICAL BODIES backs Regulator's call for Cataract Care in High Street

October 2015

A report by Monitor suggesting that post-operative cataract care should be provided in the community has been welcomed by national representative bodies for optometrists and opticians.

The Local Optical Committee Support Unit (LOCSU) and the Optical Confederation (OC) have backed Monitor’s recommendation in their report on elective surgery that post-operative, follow-up care for patients who have had cataract surgery should be provided in the community by optometrists.

Both LOCSU and the OC agree with the health watchdog that the move would help ease the pressure on hospital ophthalmology clinics.

Responding to the report Katrina Venerus, LOCSU Managing Director, said: “This is eminently sensible and the community optical sector believes it should be implemented across the country.

“Despite the obvious benefits, to date, only 23 out of the 209 CCGs in England have commissioned this approach to bring efficiency to the cataract care pathway and provide care closer to home for patients.

“This means that for the majority of the 370,000 cataract procedures that are carried out per year, patients still have to travel to hospital for an outpatient appointment.
Administration costs associated with commissioning and contracting would be minimised if NHS England commissioned the post-operative follow-up pathway as a national service on behalf of all CCGs.”

The press release from Monitor can be found at:

The full report from Monitor can be found at:

New AOP Council announced after Election Results

October 2015

The Association of Optometrists (AOP) is pleased to announce the results of the AOP Council elections.

The new streamlined AOP Council consists of 33 members - down from 45 - and aims to better reflect the profession, drawing on the wide range of experience from all ages and backgrounds within the Association’s membership.

Two Councillors were elected in each of the nine English constituencies, and in Northern Ireland and Wales, while Scotland has three representatives.

A further eight designated positions represent core areas of membership, including new positions for early-career optometrists and franchisee/joint venture partners. These positions were filled through an appointments process.

Henrietta Alderman, AOP Chief Executive, said: “I would like to congratulate all the successful candidates and thank everyone who took part in the AOP Council elections and appointment process. Our new look Council forms part of a wider drive for member engagement with a focus on increasing interaction between Councillors and members. We are committed to better represent and serve our members and I look forward to working with our new Councillors to achieve this.”

The new Councillors will help develop crucial links with the wider AOP membership, communicating with members at events and through online forums.

The first meeting of the new Council will be on 21-22 October at the Association’s offices in Farringdon.

A dinner will also be held to welcome new Councillors and recognise the contribution of outgoing members.

For more information on the new AOP Council and the important role Councillors play representing the Association’s membership, see the AOP website

GOC issues CET deadline reminder to registrants

October 2015

The General Optical Council (GOC) has issued a reminder to all registrants that they must complete all Continuing Education and Training (CET) requirements by the 31 December 2015 deadline in order to stay registered and continue to practise.

Registrants must meet their CET points target for the 2013-15 CET cycle. Optometrists and contact lens opticians must also attend at least one interactive peer review session.

Failure to meet these requirements by the 31 December 2015 deadline will result in removal from the GOC’s registers, meaning registrants will be unable to practise until they have completed their outstanding CET requirements and have been restored to the registers.

Unlike in previous cycles, there will be no shortfall period – so registrants who do not meet the requirements by the deadline will be removed from the register straight away. Only registrants who can demonstrate exceptional circumstances for missing their target will avoid being removed from the register immediately and will instead have until 15 March 2016 to make up the shortfall.

GOC Acting Head of Education and Standards, Marcus Dye, said: “CET is essential in maintaining the high standards of competence needed to practise. We have received a lot of positive feedback about our new enhanced CET scheme, and it is encouraging that many registrants have already met all the requirements. However, there is still a sizeable number of registrants who have yet to attain all their points, and I urge them to make sure they do so before 31 December.

“While registrants might believe they have obtained all their CET points for this cycle, they must make sure they accept their points in MyGOC for them to be counted towards their overall total. I encourage all registrants to check their MyGOC account to make sure there are no points yet to be accepted.”

Registrants can log and accept CET points using the MyGOC section of the GOC website at

First GOC hearings set for new Farringdon offices

October 2015

The General Optical Council (GOC) will next week hold its first fitness to practise hearing at its new Farringdon offices.

A private interim order review takes place on Friday 9 October, with the first public hearing starting on Monday 12 October.

The new offices will be able to accommodate all future GOC hearings in-house, as well as Council meetings, training, stakeholder meetings and other events which the regulator has previously had to hold off-site.

Josie Lloyd, GOC Director of Resources, said: “Moving our hearings to our new offices in Farringdon is an important landmark for the GOC. Having all of our activities taking place under one roof will be of enormous benefit in ensuring we work efficiently as an organisation.”

The new office will also provide a more modern working environment for GOC staff and will improve accessibility.

The GOC hopes that its staff will now move into the new office in November. The regulator had originally hoped to move by the end of the summer, but has been delayed by work to install its internet and telephone lines. All staff remain working at 41 Harley Street in the interim.

Josie Lloyd added, “There will be real benefits to moving so in an ideal world we would all be in Farringdon already. But short delays with communications infrastructure are not unexpected with an office move, so we’re staying at Harley Street for a little bit longer in line with our contingency planning.”


find my
Office Giant
Primary Health Net