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Opchat Magazine Professional Matters PagesProfessional Matters News, January to March 2016

New GOC Standards of Practice come into effect today. (April 1st.)

Low Vision Service Wales Fee Increase

Contact lens optician appointed to the GOC Investigation Committee.

Far reaching investigation into the future for the Optical sector and eye health through to 2030 is provided by Foresight Project published today

OC states that more high street eye services are needed to reduce hospital pressures.

College joins in warning shots over "Eye risk from ‘overstretched NHS’".

GOC issues contact lens care reminder.

Falkirk-based optometrist suspended from GOC registers.

New resource for Local Eye Health Networks and Local Optical Committees.

ABDO INSIGHT 2016’ with ITN Productions launches.

GOC launches CET guidance booklet.

Irish Optometrists call on Parties and Candidates to support community eye-care.

News from General Optical Council.Meeting

AIO comes to the regions.

LOCSU Board publishes new, turbo-charged sector strategy.

AIO welcomes revision to GOC Code of Conduct for business registrants despite reservations on Student Standards.

New members of College Council announced.

Quality standard developed for people with sight loss and dementia in an ophthalmology department.

JCL Consulting Announces Emergency First Aid at Work Courses.

GOS Sight Test numbers up in first half of Fiscal Year 2015 compared to previous year.

GOC retention opens for 2016/17.

Optical practices can help deliver NHS reform says health minister.

GOC announces that 98 per cent of registrants meet CET targets.

Public urged to make eye health their new year’s resolution.

WCO announces new Executive Director

New GOC Standards of Practice come into effect today. (April 1st.)

March 2016

The General Optical Council’s (GOC) new Standards of Practice for Optometrists and Dispensing Opticians, and separate new Standards for Optical Students, have today come into effect.

The new Standards have replaced the Code of Conduct for Individual Registrants, which previously applied to both fully qualified practitioners and students.

The document sets out the 19 standards that optical professionals must meet. They relate both to a registrant’s behaviour and professional performance.

Samantha Peters GOCSamantha Peters, GOC Chief Executive and Registrar said: “I am pleased to announce that the new Standards are now in effect. The Standards are designed to support registrants and raise standards by making much clearer our expectations as the regulator.

“The optical sector is developing in line with the wider healthcare system, and the Standards are designed to be flexible enough to enable registrants’ roles to evolve in the interests of patients. It is important to note that the Standards are not a rule book, and give room for registrants to use their professional judgement in deciding how to apply the Standards in any given situation.”

All registrants have received a copy of the Standards in the post, and they are also available to access on the GOC’s website. As part of the retention process, all fully qualified registrants had to declare that they had read and would abide by the Standards. Fully qualified registrants will also have to complete at least one piece of Continuing Education and Training (CET) relating to the Standards as part of the 2016-18 cycle.

The new Standards were developed through a comprehensive consultation exercise which included an online survey of all registrants and a series of focus groups with patients and the wider public, optometrists, dispensing opticians, students and fitness to practise decision-makers.

Low Vision Service Wales Fee Increase

March 2016

The Minister for Health and Social Care in Wales, Professor Mark Drakeford AM has announced that, following negotiations with Optometry Wales, an increase of £10 will be added to the fee claimed by Low Vision Accredited Practitioners.

Andy Riley, Chairman of Optometry Wales expressed his delight in this additional increase for practitioners saying ‘....the increase in the fee does reflect the value that Welsh Government place on eye care in Wales at present. The Low Vision Service in Wales is such a valuable service for patients in Wales. We are also looking forward to helping signpost patients who have or might be experiencing Depression (which will form an additional part of the service following published research identifying causal links in depression and sight loss.

This research was undertaken in Wales and once again highlights the progress being made in eye care and service delivery in this devolved nation’

Contact lens optician appointed to the GOC Investigation Committee.

March 2016

The General Optical Council (GOC) has appointed Sarah Baylay, a practising contact lens optician, to its Investigation Committee (IC).

Sarah has over 16 years’ experience in the optical sector, and in 2004 graduated with a degree in Optical Management.

Sarah has managed six different practices, including eight years at a high street multiple. She has also trained and mentored a number of optical consultants, trainee dispensing opticians and new managers.

Gareth Hadley, GOC Chair, said: “I am very pleased to announce the appointment of Sarah to our Investigation Committee.

The Committee plays a vital role in enabling us to uphold confidence in the profession and protect the public. Sarah brings a tremendous amount of experience to the role, having worked at all levels of optics, and I am confident the Committee will benefit greatly from her insight.”

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.

The 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.

Far reaching investigation into the future for the Optical sector and eye health through to 2030 is provided by Foresight Project published today.

March 2016

Foresight Project“There are no guarantees of who will be delivering what, and where, by 2030. But unless professionals and businesses adapt with the times, they risk becoming unviable. Arguably the optical sector, with its deep dependency on retail, will be the health sector to feel it first. Call it the second-machine age or our modern Gutenberg moment: many medical monopolies that have enjoyed supremacy for (quite literally) hundreds of years have now to work out how to evolve their offering, or be dismantled from the outside in.

The optical practice, in whatever form, will need to give the public stronger reasons to enter its premises in the future. The impending fundamental and irreversible changes within the optical sector are many, but so are the opportunities to embrace them and move forward. Those who become agile, value relationships, learn how to harness the public’s interest and share expertise, will be the ones who flourish. “

Just a taster written within the conclusions of the executive summary of the report published today.

The Foresight project report investigates the potential impact of technology on the UK Optical Sector by 2030.

The Optical Confederation and the College of Optometrists have worked together as never before in the interests of the sector and much of the costs have been assisted by the Central Fund.

The Report makes interesting reading for all the professions in the Optical sector as well as those whose liveliehoods are connected with traditional pathways of eye care and eye wear provision.

The substance of the report continues the very valid and opportune conversation that was heard at 100% Optical presented by the WCSM where it was recognised by regulators, academics and retailers that we must learn and about embrace change and work in new ways that open up the borders between “the professions”.

Julia Manning



The reports author commissioned by the steering group is Julia Manning of 2020Health a social entrepreneur and CEO.

Another quote from her team identifies the key opportunities and threats to our current model of optical health supply:

“Exponential growth of digital technology and fast-evolving demographics are altering the expectations and habits of consumers, businesses and NHS service providers. The pace of change is almost overwhelming, with automation of professional testing and measurement, DIY-health opportunities for the public, vast online resources and services, and the emancipation of research information. And yet, many of the practices and models of the optical professions have remained largely unchanged for decades. In the words of John F. Kennedy, “Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.”

Read the full report here

OC states that more high street eye services are needed to reduce hospital pressures.

March 2016

CCGs are being urged to introduce more high-street eye health services following revelations that hospital ophthalmology services are at bursting point.

The call follows the announcement by the UK’s leading ophthalmologist that patients are at risk of irreversible sight loss because NHS eye clinics can’t cope. Professor Carrie MacEwan, President of the Royal College of Ophthalmologists, said follow-up appointments can be “delayed by years”, meaning patients don’t get treated on time.

Now, LOCSU and the Optical Confederation are calling on the 200-plus CCGs to end the eye care “postcode lottery” by commissioning community services.

Highlighting the way forward to reduce delayed appointments and preventable sight loss, sector leader, Katrina Venerus, said: “Professor MacEwan is right to draw attention the severe pressure hospital eye clinics are under.

A major part of the solution – already set out in the NHS Five Year Forward View – is to expand services by transferring more routine and step-down care into community optical practices.

Venerus continued, “We are already supporting optometrists in a number of areas to work with ophthalmologists in Acute Trusts on initiatives to help address capacity problems. But we need all CCGs to put patients’ sight at the top of their health agenda and commission appropriate local services to ease severe bottlenecks.

“There are over 10,000 optometrists in high streets across England that can be utilised to monitor low-risk patients in the community. Local studies show that on average, this could take up to one third of patients at risk off waiting lists and allow ophthalmologists to concentrate on the most urgent cases and follow-up appointments."

The community optical sector also urged the NHS to connect optical practices to its IT systems, such as e-Referral Service, to ensure integrated patient care.

“For too long, optical practices have been overlooked as part of delivering a reformed and preventative NHS. But optical professionals have the skills and locations and the determination to play a part in delivering better eye health and reduce levels of preventable blindness. CCGs need to wake up to this and realise community services are a cost-effective solution.”, said Venerus.

College joins in warning shots over "Eye risk from ‘overstretched NHS’".

March 2016

In response to today’s warning from the Royal College of Ophthalmologists that patients are at risk of irreversible sight loss because of under-resourced services, Mary Ann Sherratt, President of the College of Optometrists, said: “Optometrists working in community settings can help alleviate the pressure being experienced in hospital eye departments but service organisation and provision will need to incorporate a range of professions working together, and be different, depending on the locality.

ABDO INSIMary Ann SherrattGHT

“We are working closely with the Royal College of Ophthalmologists, and other organisations in the sector through the Clinical Council for Eye Health Commissioning, to develop different service models for CCGs to commission the best services for the patients in their areas, to develop different service models to commission the best services for the patients in their areas and to ensure that optometrists are able to do more within their skill set.

However, for new solutions to be sustainable, optometrists in the community must be connected electronically to the rest of the NHS, to allow swift referral and communication between experts. Improved IT systems will also enable better data collection, so that new services can be monitored for cost-effectiveness and improved as time goes on.”

GOC issues contact lens care reminder.

March 2016

The General Optical Council (GOC) has today published research highlighting the importance of ensuring patients understand that contact lenses are a healthcare product and that they receive clear aftercare advice.

The independent survey to better understand the views and habits of over 2,000 contact lens wearers highlighted that only 43 per cent of contact lens wearers saw them as a healthcare product, with just as many viewing them as a lifestyle product and 12 per cent seeing them as a cosmetic product.

GOC Director of Strategy Alistair Bridge said, “The research reinforces the need for coordinated activity across the sector to ensure the public understands that contact lenses are a healthcare product and require diligent care. We want patients to receive and follow appropriate advice from their optician to ensure they are wearing their lenses safely and protecting their eyes.”

Only 48 per cent of patients could recall receiving aftercare advice at their most recent contact lens check-up. Those who have been wearing contact lenses for a long time were least likely to report receiving aftercare.

The research also tested patient awareness and compliance with good practice in looking after contact lenses, measuring how many people were aware of, and follow, a series of ‘dos and don’ts’ in relation to contact lens care.

Of the respondents, 77 per cent reported most frequently buying in-store compared with 21 per cent who most often bought online and two per cent from other sources.

However many people have bought from a mix of the two. 42 per cent of those who bought online did so from a website linked with a high street optician, with 35 per cent buying from an online-only store (the remainder did not know).

Alistair Bridge added: “We are committed to working with practitioners, businesses, manufacturers, professional bodies and patient representatives to raise awareness of the need for contact lens wearers to follow aftercare advice and have regular check-ups and eye examinations, regardless of whether they buy online or in-store.

“It is also important that registrants remember the need to provide aftercare advice to their patients, especially those who may have worn lenses for a long time and might have slipped into bad habits.”

The research was carried out by BMG, an independent agency, and is available on the GOC website

Falkirk-based optometrist suspended from GOC registers.

February 2016

The General Optical Council (GOC), the UK regulator for opticians, has suspended Lesley-Anne McCue, an optometrist based in Falkirk, from its registers for 12 months.

She is now unable to practise as an optometrist in the UK for the period of her suspension.

A GOC Fitness to Practise Committee found her fitness to practise impaired by virtue of misconduct in relation to dishonestly amending patient records.

In making its decision the Committee, chaired by James Kellock, said: “The Committee considered that the dishonest alteration of patient records is a very serious matter. The Committee determined this is a significant departure from the standards of conduct and behaviour expected of a Registrant and amounts to misconduct.

“The Committee was satisfied that the Registrant has shown insight into the circumstances leading up to the allegations in question, her own actions, and her dishonesty. The Committee accepted that the Registrant is of previous good character and that this incident constituted a single incident in a career spanning over 23 years. It further determined that the likelihood of repetition by the Registrant of any dishonest behaviour to be minimal. Nevertheless, the Committee considered these matters are so serious that the public interest requires a finding of impairment be made in this case.”

McCue has until 16 March to appeal her suspension, during which time she is suspended from the register under an immediate order.

New resource for Local Eye Health Networks and Local Optical Committees.

February 2016

A new resource called “People with learning disabilities and eye care – what every LEHN and LOC needs to know” has been launched by the national sight loss and disability charity, SeeAbility with the support of LOCSU.

Research estimates that adults with learning disabilities are ten times more likely to have serious sight problems than other people. For children, the figure grows to 28 times more likely.

Despite this, many people with learning disabilities are not receiving the eye care they need.

The new resource outlines how LEHN’s and LOC’s can work with SeeAbility to improve access to eye care for people with learning disabilities in their area by:

• Suggesting enhancements to community sight tests and targeted work in special schools for people with learning disabilities to be included in Eye Health Needs Assessments.

• Discussing with Commissioners about dedicated services for hard-to-reach groups

• Promoting the LOCSU community eye care pathway for people with learning disabilities over the age of 14. It has been successfully piloted in a number of areas and provides trained optometrists, reasonably adjusted appointments and support and accessible information for the individual.

SeeAbility and LOCSU are already working with and supporting a number of LEHN’s and CCG’s around the country.

This will help to deliver the LEHN and England Vision Strategy ambition to improve access and detect eye conditions early in hard to reach groups.

By transforming eye care for people with learning disabilities there will be savings on wider health and social care costs, reducing numbers of people being seen in hospital for regular sight tests and preventing high level health and social care needs arising from untreated sight loss.

The resource can be found on SeeAbility’s website along with a host of other information on eye care for people with learning disabilities: Click here

ABDO INSIGHT 2016’ with ITN Productions launches.

February 2016

ABDO INSIGHTThe Association of British Dispensing Opticians (ABDO) and ITN Productions are pleased to announce that for the third year running, they will be entering into a partnership to produce a news and current affairs-style programme which will explore the latest innovations and achievements in the profession of dispensing opticians.

Introduced by national newsreader Natasha Kaplinsky, the news-style programme will feature key industry interviews and news-style reports along with sponsored editorial profiles of some of the leading organisations.

The programme will aim to provide a greater understanding of the role of opticians examining the most important challenges and opportunities ahead, as well as capturing the very latest developments and best practice, particularly in the area of paediatric dispensing, lens technology and spectacle frames.

Simon Shelley, Head of Industry News, ITN Productions said: “ITN Productions has enjoyed its partnership with the Association of British Dispensing Opticians, and we’re keen to embark on another programme exploring the nation’s eye health.

“By bringing new innovations and solutions to screen, and looking into the organisations and the passionate people behind them, we hope to spark new dialogue that could shape the future.”

The first part of ‘ABDO INSIGHT 2016’ will be premiered at the Optrafair optical exhibition on Sunday 10 April 2016 at Birmingham NEC, followed with another release to coincide with National Eye Health Week in September 2016.

GOC launches CET guidance booklet.

February 2016

The General Optical Council has today launched a booklet providing its registrants with guidance for the 2016-18 Continuing Education and Training (CET) cycle.

The booklet assists registrants with all aspects of CET, including changes for this cycle such as the addition of a new ‘Standards of Practice’ competency for optometrists and dispensing opticians to help them apply the GOC’s new Standards of Practice which come into force on 1 April 2016.

The booklet also provides guidance on how registrants can make greater use of their Personal Development Plan (PDP), which allows registrants to reflect on their scope of practice, identify learning goals and further their professional development.

GOC Acting Head of Education and Standards, Marcus Dye, said: “This guide is intended to help registrants get the most out of their CET, and I encourage all registrants to use this booklet to ensure that they maintain and develop their skills and knowledge. We have taken on board feedback from registrants in making clearer some aspects of MyCET, and have included further guidance on how registrants can apply to provide peer review sessions through the system.

“I’d particularly like to encourage registrants to make use of the personal development plans to plan their professional development and complete reflection statements as a way of considering how they can apply their CET in practice.”

All registrants have been emailed a copy of the booklet, which can also be found on the GOC’s website at They will receive a copy by post in April along with their 2016/17 retention certificate.

The 2016-18 CET cycle opened on 1 January 2016, and will run until 31 December 2018. Registrants are required to obtain 36 CET points across the three year cycle, with a minimum of one peer review session mandatory for optometrists and contact lens opticians. Registrants must meet all core competencies for their professional group, as well as obtain a minimum of half their CET points through completing interactive CET.

98 per cent of registrants met their CET requirements in the 2013-15 cycle.

Irish Optometrists call on Parties and Candidates to support community eye-care

February 2016

Optometrists have called on Election Groupings and Candidates to support community based services to improve eye health, in a General Election 2016 Manifesto launched today.

The Association of Optometrists Ireland (AOI) said that visual impairment and blindness are significantly on the increase in Ireland with an estimated 75% of eye disease preventable through regular eye examinations.

AOI Chief Executive Peter Coleman said: “Increased eye-care services in the community would reduce waiting times for hospital out-patient and treatment services. By providing more timely treatment, the level of vision impairment and blindness can be reduced. Investment in cost effective community based eye-care interventions can save the State an estimated €76m in treatment costs.1”

The AOI has asked Election Parties, Groupings and Candidates to support the following:

Eliminate children’s eye-care waiting lists by using Optometrists’ services
Increase primary eye-care services in the community in order to reduce waiting lists for treatment of cataract and macular degeneration
Extend services provided under the Department of Social Protection Optical Benefit Scheme so that they match services to medical card holders
Return the availability of corrective eye-wear to being covered under the Optical Benefit Scheme
Ensure the publication and implementation of the recommendations of the National Eye-care Plan
Implement the forthcoming recommendations of the HSE Eye-Care Review.
Extend GP-only cards to include primary eye exams by community Optometrists.

“Services to significantly improve eye health are available in a cost effective manner through community Optometrists who are suitably qualified and ideally located to help address the challenges,” Mr Coleman concluded.

News from General Optical Council.Meeting

February 2016

Raising concerns with the GOC (whistleblowing) policy

Council agreed a new policy providing guidance for registrants and others in the optical sector on raising concerns about risks to patient safety, including where to go for advice and what protection is offered.

The policy has undergone a period of consultation with stakeholders and the GOC will publish the final version shortly.

It sets out the steps that registrants or others working in the sector should take if they believe that patient safety or care is being compromised by colleagues or the organisations in which they work or study.

This might be, for example, because they are concerned about a colleague whose fitness to practise may be impaired, that record keeping or sight test processes are insufficient, fraud or false advertising, or that patient safety risks are being covered up and not addressed.

The policy is clear that the first step should usually be to raise the concern at a local level, such as with their employer. However if this is not a viable option, if raising the concern locally fails to bring a resolution, or the problem raises an imminent risk of serious harm, then it may be appropriate to bring it to the GOC to investigate.

The policy will help registrants to comply with the new GOC Standards, which place a duty on registrants to protect and safeguard patients, colleagues and others from harm.

Hearings and indicative sanctions guidance consultation

Council approved a consultation on the hearings and indicative sanctions guidance provided for fitness to practise (FTP) panel members. The consultation will go live tomorrow, Friday 12 February.

The guidance is used to explain the FTP process and help panels members decide what sanction to apply, if any, in an FTP hearing.

The GOC wants to ensure that the guidance is a basis for fair and proportionate decisions. The changes are also designed to take account of legal and regulatory changes and the GOC’s new Standards of Practice.

Lisa Davis, GOC Director of Fitness to Practise, said: “We believe these proposed changes will improve consistency, lead to greater transparency and improve the quality of FTP panel decisions. It is important to get stakeholders’ feedback though before they take effect, so I’d strongly encourage all interested parties to respond to the consultation.”

When FTP panels consider which sanction to apply, they will always consider the least serious sanction (a warning) first. If that is insufficient to ensure public protection then they will consider the other available sanctions such as conditions, a fine or suspension.

Erasure from the register is the last sanction to be considered, and is applied only when the committee considers all other sanctions to be insufficient.

Budget and business plan

Council received the GOC’s draft budget and business plan for 2016/17. Council was keen to see a stronger emphasis on considering the future of education in the optical professions, particularly in light of technological change and increasing prevalence of GOC registrants undertaking enhanced optical services. However, this will require a reduction in other areas of the business plan to allow for the extra focus on education. The draft budget and business plan will now be revised before coming into effect on 1 April 2016.

Member fees

Council considered the fees for all its members including Council, committee members, education visitors, CET approvers and hearing panel members. This was considered on the basis of a thorough and transparent benchmarking exercise with comparable organisations and follows a similar exercise for staff which was completed last year.

The benchmarking research found that Council members’ fees were broadly in line with those of similar organisations and recommended a four per cent rise to £13,460 per year.

However, the research found that the Chair’s current annual fee was significantly below the benchmarked median rate and so Council agreed an increase to ensure fairness in respect of the required time commitment and the seniority of the role.
The Chair left the room and took no part in the discussion of his fee to avoid any conflict of interests.

Fees for most members will change on 1 April 2016, however the fees for Council Chair and members will not be agreed until the Charity Commission has given due consideration.

Full details are available in the Council paper:

Other news

Council received a presentation from BMG Research, an independent agency who the GOC commissioned to research the views and habits of UK contact lens wearers. The GOC will publish the full report and its reaction to it in the coming weeks.

Council received an update on the end of the 2013-15 CET cycle.

Over 98 per cent of registrants met their CET requirements in last cycle.

Further details are available on the GOC website:

Council considered the necessary skillset for a new lay member from Northern Ireland ahead of advertising for a vacancy in March. The new appointee is expected to start in October 2016 and will replace Brian Coulter, who steps down in September 2016.

AIO comes to the regions.

February 2016

Event in Bath forms first local group for Association spreading its wings

Following on from its first foray into Scotland at Eyecare 2016, the Association for Independent Optometrists (AIO) is now embarking on a series of regional events designed to establish local groups of the Association across the country. This is the precursor to the launch of the new Independents Code of Practice (the IC) which will help those practices that subscribe to IC to differentiate what they offer on the High Street.

A group of both AIO members and non members met in Bath to discuss the issues that were foremost on their minds and there was a strong consensus on a number of points. In particular, there was a unanimous view that free and discounted eye examinations or sight tests are not in the public interest as they result in a disproportionate incentive to prescribe glasses and contact lenses.

AIO Vice Chairman Keith Pearce who convened the meeting in Bath said ‘I was delighted with this pioneering event for AIO not only because it attracted a group of very high profile Independent practitioners, but also that it demonstrated Independents share the same views on so many issues. I was also gratified to hear from those who were not members of the AIO that they will now join the Association. A strong Independent sector is good for the optical profession and even more importantly is good for the eye health of the nation.’

The next events are being planned for Cambridge, London and Manchester in the late spring and further details will be released shortly. Peter Warren, AIO Chairman said ‘The Association is determined to build from the ground up as well as from the work being undertaken by the AIO Council and the success of the Bath event is testament that this is the right approach to take. I am looking forward to meeting both members and potential members in their local areas over coming months and listening to their issues and concerns as we continue to refine how best to ensure a vibrant future for the sector.’

Any Independent practice that would be interested to attend one of the regional meetings in Cambridge, London and Manchester are invited to contact

LOCSU Board publishes new, turbo-charged sector strategy.

February 2016

“Now is the time to invest in our Breakthrough Strategy” – Board urges LOCs.

Katrina Venerus LOCSUFollowing the outcomes from a Board strategy workshop in December, LOCSU has developed a new set of objectives critical for the community optical sector in England.

The new turbo-charged blueprint – called a “A Breakthrough Strategy for Optics” – aims to set the sector on a faster and broader course to achieve its main objective of seeing all the national pathways adopted by all CCGs, nationwide.

The headline goals include doubling the number of CCGs with a Minor Eye Conditions Service (MECS) by March 2017 and achieving an 80% target for MECS within two years.

LOCSU plans to achieve its aims for the sector by stepping up the capacity of the team of (renamed) Commissioning Leads working across England, and providing specific additional support for LOCs in the mobilisation and monitoring of services, along with data collection/analysis which will be crucial in driving the increase in activity.

The enhanced team necessary to deliver the demanding targets set by the LOCSU Board will require an increase in the LOCSU levy from 0.4% of GOS sight test fees back to its original level of 0.5% from April 2016.

Publishing “A Breakthrough Strategy for Optics”, LOCSU’s Managing Director Katrina Venerus said: “The new Strategy is not so much about the direction of travel, as our overall objective remains the same, but it is about the speed and scale at which we need to achieve success.

“We stand at a crossroads and at a tectonic time for the sector,” she said.

“While we can be pleased about the successes that LOCSU has supported LOCs to achieve so far, the LOCSU Board has concluded that the sector has to seize the moment and take this bold step forward.

“Technological changes, the NHS open to new care models including service redesign, a greater focus on community services by the multiples and the threat of external competitors mean we must ask ourselves: ‘If not us, who? If not now, when?’
“The Board believes that this is the critical moment. We need to land a killer punch, set demanding targets and invest accordingly to achieve them.
“With the AGM season approaching, we are asking LOCs give their backing to the Breakthrough Strategy for Optics and to agree to this investment to drive the sector forward in a fundamental way.”

Alan Tinger, LOCSU Chairman said, “When I announced the reduction levy at the 2012 NOC it was the right decision at the right time, and now it is equally right to put it back to its original level to take the sector forward in this way.”

For more information and to download the full business case, click here

To comment and ask questions about the revised strategy, email Chris McGachy, Head of Communications:

LOCSU’s Managing Director, Katrina Venerus will host a series of four webinars to give LOC Chairs an opportunity to come together with members of the LOCSU Board and LOCSU team for a Question & Answer session on the new strategy. For webinar dates and how to book follow this link to the Events page of the LOCSU website.

AIO welcomes revision to GOC Code of Conduct for business registrants despite reservations on Student Standards.

February 2016

However the Association is disappointed about aspects of Standards for students.

The Association for Independent Optometrists and Dispensing Opticians (AIO) is pleased to see that the GOC will be revising its standards in respect of business registrants alongside the revision for individuals on 1st April 2016.

The Association had strongly encouraged the GOC to take this approach during its consultation on standards to ensure that there is consistency in how the profession operates across the board and in what the public should expect on their eye care provider.

There is a clear difference in operating models between smaller independent practices and the larger corporate operators, and it is important that standards are consistent across different business models, particularly where a clear employer/employee model for professionals exists in larger companies.

Peter Warren, Chairman of AIO commented ‘AIO is always keen to engage with the GOC in respect of its consultations and we were pleased to do so face to face, as well as by way of a formal response, in the case of the Standards Strategic Review. We welcome the fact that standards for business registrants will be updated alongside and consistent with those for individual registrants. We are however disappointed that Standards for students have been introduced, particularly when they have not been limited to patient interaction. It is not clear why the world of optics should be unique amongst other medical professions in requiring this.’
‘It seems that a minor indiscretion, completely unrelated to optics, (perhaps made after a night out with fellow students!) could lead to some sort of sanction by the GOC, which seems a little extreme.’ Peter added.

The new standards which go live on 1st April are broadly welcomed by the AIO as fit for purpose.

New members of College Council announced

January 2016

The College of Optometrists has announced the newest members of its Council. Aleksandra Mankowska (MCOptom) has been elected a College Council member for the Yorkshire and Humber region, Andrew McGregor (MCOptom) will represent the North East, Paul Carroll (MCOptom) will join as a Council member for the North West and Priya Jayaprakash (MCOptom) will represent College members in the London region.

The election process, which was run entirely online for the first time, also saw several existing Council members being re-elected, including:
• Jane Macnaughton (FCOptom) for the East Midlands
• Professor Peter Allen (FCOptom) and Parminder Randhawa (MCOptom) for the Eastern region
• Dr Gillian Rudduck (MCOptom) for the North West
• Dr Kamlesh Chauhan (MCOptom) and Rasmeet Chadha (MCOptom) for the South East
• Hal Rollason (FCOptom) for Scotland
• Sarah Farrant (MCOptom) and Kiki Soteri (MCOptom) for the South West
• Sheetal Patel (MCOptom) for the London region.

New Council member, Andrew McGregor, said; “I’m delighted to represent my region on the College’s Council. I’m looking forward to taking a role amongst the team and taking the opportunity to shape the future direction of the College. I will do my best to be a critical friend for the College and feed back the view from the ‘coalface’ to ensure that recommendations are practical in everyday practice.”

David Parkins, President of the College of Optometrists, said: “I would like to congratulate all the successful candidates and I look forward to welcoming them on to College Council. Council members are ambassadors for the profession; they bring members’ views directly to the College, which is hugely valuable to us, and provide leadership for the profession and represent the views of their colleagues in their region.

“I would also like to thank and recognise all the outgoing Council members for their enormous contribution over the years, namely Cindy Tromans, who will remain as Chair of the Board of Trustees, Sarah Townsend, Omar Hassan and Kavi Kotecha.”

Election to College Council gives College members and fellows the opportunity to represent colleagues, promote their profession and help shape the future of optometry. The Council is responsible for determining the strategic and professional direction of the College.

The new Council members will begin their terms after the College of Optometrists AGM which is held on 14 March 2016 as part of its annual conference, Optometry Tomorrow.

Quality standard developed for people with sight loss and dementia in an ophthalmology department.

January 2016

RC Oph LogoThe Royal College of Ophthalmologists and the VISION 2020 UK Dementia and Sight Loss Committee have developed a quality standard to help eye clinics and ophthalmology departments provide high quality care for patients with dementia.

Patients with dementia and their carers can benefit from being identified in advance of attending their appointment in order for eye clinic staff to be aware of and identify ways to best support the needs of these patients. The quality standard identifies simple and easy steps that can be taken to enable services to be designed and adapted to meet the needs of people with dementia.

Seven quality statements have been designed based on the NICE format for quality standards to help ophthalmology departments assess their services.

These seven statements address staff training, support to participate in decisions about care, the design of clinical areas, waiting times and appointment durations, provision of information, assessment of vision and referral for support.

vision 2020 logoPaul Ursell, Consultant Ophthalmologist at The Royal College of Ophthalmologists, Consultant at Epsom & St Helier University NHS Trust and VISION 2020 UK Dementia and Sight Loss Committee member, commented “This piece of work highlights the breadth of what should be considered in providing care to patients with dementia in an eye clinic requires liaison between the patient, carers, all staff, managers, and commissioners of care within the care pathway.”

To view the full Quality standard please visit:

JCL Consulting Announces Emergency First Aid at Work Courses.

January 2016

Did you know that Employers have a legal duty regarding First Aid?

The HSE expects businesses to carry out a risk assessment to see what level of risk their business has. Your business is probably fairly low risk, but the health and safety of the general public should also be taken into account.

Some small businesses can manage with just an ‘Appointed Person’ who is responsible for keeping the first aid kit up to date, calling an ambulance and keeping records.

However, as you have members of the public visiting your premises, it is advised that you always have a member of staff with ‘Emergency First Aid at Work’ training, available at all times.

Please remember that your First Aiders will have holidays and sickness, so you will need to provide cover.

To help practices with this, JCL Consulting will be running 'Emergency First Aid at Work' Training Courses in South East London on 24th February and East London on 14th March.

They are aiming to run this course exclusively for optical practices so all attendees would be Optoms, DOs or other practice staff. The cost will be £150.00 plus VAT per delegate including lunch and refreshments.

The course will run from 9.30am - 4.00pm with registration from 9.15am.

Course content covered: First aid at work rules and regulations, fears of first aid, barriers, initial assessment, unconscious and breathing, recovery position, the heart, sudden cardiac arrest, heart attacks and CPR, One rescuer CPR, chest only compressions, CPR handover to a second rescuer, adult choking - conscious and unconscious, serious bleeding management and wounds, shock, spinal injury management, burns and scalds, anaphylactic shock and allergies, seizures and epilepsy.

You will receive a nationally recognised first aid qualification that is HSE compliant and your certificate is valid for 3 years. The course will be delivered by professional first aid instructors.

GOS Sight Test numbers up in first half of Fiscal Year 2015 compared to previous year

January 2016

General Ophthalmic Services, Selected Activity Statistics for England - April 2015 to September 2015

• There were more sight tests carried out between April and September 2015 (6.55 million) than in the same period in 2014 (6.41 million).

• The number of vouchers redeemed in the first half of 2015-16 (2.31 million) was slightly lower compared to the first half of 2014-15 (2.34 million).

• The total number of items for repair and replacement, has remained fairly consistent between April and September 2015, compared to the same period in 2014, at 262 thousand.

Follow the link here for full report.


GOC retention opens for 2016/17

January 2016

Optometrists, dispensing opticians and optical businesses can from today renew their annual General Optical Council (GOC) registration for the year beginning 1 April 2016. Applications must be submitted by 15 March together with the required fee. The retention fee for 2016/17 is £320.

Michelle Norman, GOC Head of Registration, said: “Retaining registration is a legal requirement for anyone carrying out restricted functions or using a protected title such as optometrist or dispensing optician. Those who fail to retain will be removed from our registers and will be unable to practise in the UK.

“I encourage registrants to apply for retention as soon as possible. The process is quick and simple via the MyGOC area of our website, and by applying in good time registrants will have peace of mind that they are registered for the next year.”

Practitioners with a total gross income of less than £12,000 per year are eligible for the GOC’s low income fee of £220.

They must apply for the reduced fee by 1 February 2016 by completing the application form that is available on the GOC website before completing their retention application online.

Any practitioner who does not apply for retention by the 15 March 2016 deadline will face a £20 late application fee.

Registrants who have still not renewed their registration by 31 March 2016, including payment of the late fee, may be removed from the registers after 1 April 2016.

Registrants can apply online from today by logging in to their MyGOC account at

Optical practices can help deliver NHS reform says health minister.

January 2016

High-street optical practices can be a force for reform, health minister Alistair Burt said following a meeting with leaders from the optical sector.

OC meeting Alistair Burt Health MinisterMinister of State for Community and Social Care, Alistair Burt, had a positive meeting with the leaders from the optical sector last month and said that practices could help the NHS to deliver reforms set out in the Five Year Forward View.

Mr Burt said that optometrists and opticians were well positioned to play a wider role in transforming health delivery with other primary care professionals and could help reduce the pressure on GPs and hospital care, such as A&E.

“There is no doubt that some of the best examples I have seen so far from the Vanguards sites are where they are getting other professions involved in delivering care in the community to support general practice.

“I sincerely hope that eye care and ophthalmology will feature in the new model of care within some of the Vanguard sites.

“I recognise that optical practices could play a wider role in delivering care closer to patients and that they can take some of the pressure away from GPs.”

Mr Burt told leaders from the optical sector that he understood the importance of connecting optical practices to the rest of the NHS.

Optical leaders explained to the health minister that, in their view, the IT bid submitted by the sector to NHS England was critical to the secure sharing of patient records and that out-of-hospital care was dependent on this connectivity.

The Minister, who is responsible for primary care commissioning policy, along with ophthalmic and dentistry services and the GP contract, revealed he is looking forward to continuing to work with the optical profession.

Responding on behalf of the Optical Confederation and LOCSU, Tony Garrett said: “This was a very positive meeting. We were pleased to have had such a productive and encouraging meeting with the minister. We welcome his interest in the sector and look forward to working with him.”

GOC announces that 98 per cent of registrants meet CET targets.

January 2016

The General Optical Council (GOC) has today released figures showing that 98 per cent of all registrants met their Continuing Education and Training (CET) requirements for the 2013-15 cycle.

Just 412 registrants out of 21,158 face removal from the register for not meeting their requirements, including 255 optometrists and 157 dispensing opticians. 75 of those registrants had already told the GOC they intend to retire or come off the register.

In line with GOC rules some registrants may be able to demonstrate exceptional circumstances for not meeting their CET target, meaning the number of registrants removed is likely to be even lower than 412.

A further 12 contact lens opticians face losing their specialty registration, although they will be able to continue practising as dispensing opticians.

Marcus Dye, GOC Head of Education and Standards, said: “I am delighted that almost all registrants completed their CET by the 31 December 2015 deadline. CET is vital in ensuring registrants keep their skills and knowledge up to date so they can continue to deliver good care to their patients.

We will be writing shortly to all registrants who did not meet the requirements to explain the steps that we will take before they are removed from the register, including the appeal process.

I would like to thank all stakeholders for their support over the cycle, including professional bodies who encouraged registrants to meet their targets, and all CET providers, especially for their work in providing CET so close to the deadline for registrants still requiring points.”

The CET cycle ran from 1 January 2013 to 31 December 2015.

All registrants were required to obtain 36 CET points, adjusted pro-rata for those who joined the register later in the cycle.

Registrants were required to undertake CET in relation to each competency relevant to their registration, obtain 50 per cent of their points through interactive learning methods, and all optometrists and contact lens opticians had to complete one peer review CET session. Specialists had further requirements in relation to their specialty.

99 per cent of optometrists and contact lens opticians completed the mandatory peer review requirement. This was the first cycle in which this was a requirement.

The new 2016-18 CET cycle started on 1 January 2016 and will run until 31 December 2018.

Public urged to make eye health their new year’s resolution.

January 2016

The Association of Optometrists (AOP) is urging the public to make eye health their new year’s resolution as a seasonal reminder of the importance of regular sight tests.

The call follows new research which reveals that only 35% of people are aware of optometrists’ ability to detect eye health problems - indicating a narrow understanding of the role optometrists play safeguarding the nation’s eye health.

A further 11% of people surveyed have never been to see an optometrist or optician - suggesting that large numbers of the population are currently overlooking their eye health.

Optometrist and AOP Clinical and Regulatory Officer, Henry Leonard, said: “We’re urging people not to overlook the value of sight and to make eye health their new year’s resolution. At this time of year when we’re all celebrating with friends and family, why not check that your loved ones can see as well as they should. Headaches, blurred vision and eye strain are all possible signs that a visit to your local optometrist may be in order. During a sight test, your optometrist will test your vision as well as the health of your eyes.”

Mr Leonard added: “Sight is the sense people fear losing the most. NHS-funded sight tests are available for children under 16 and those aged 60 or over, in addition to other key groups. As well as an eye health check, a sight test might detect signs of underlying general health conditions, such as diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure.”

The AOP is encouraging its members to support a nationwide poster campaign, calling on the public to make eye health their top priority for 2016.

The Association recently produced a new animated video explaining what to expect from a sight test, as well as new patient information including a guide to who’s who in an optical practice and top tips for healthy eyes.

WCO announces new Executive Director

January 2016

WCOThe World Council of Optometry (WCO) is pleased to announce the appointment of Mark A. Bullimore MCOptom, PhD, FAAO as its new Executive Director.

Dr Bullimore is a British-trained optometrist and accomplished scientist who has taught optometry students in the UK, USA and Trinidad and Tobago and has lectured to professional groups on four continents.

He is the former President and Development Director of the American Optometric Foundation and the former Editor of Optometry and Vision Science, the Journal of the American Academy of Optometry.

Dr Bullimore will assist the Officers, Executive Committee and Governing Board of the WCO in fulfilling the organization’s mission to facilitate the development of optometry around the world and support optometrists in promoting eye health and vision care as a human right through advocacy, education, policy development and humanitarian outreach.

Dr Bullimore will ensure that the WCO meets its current and future objectives in line with the requirements of its members through the development, implementation and review of appropriate strategies. He will also direct all aspects of the WCO's relationship with its membership, including recruitment and retention, strong fiscal management, communication and the development, promotion and delivery of services.

The World Council of Optometry is looking forward to Dr Bullimore joining our team at our new offices in St. Louis, Missouri.


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