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Opchat Magazine Professional Matters PagesProfessional Matters News, July to September 2016

Optical Confederation meets with new primary care minister, David Mowat MP to discuss the crucial role of the optical sector.

American Optometric Foundation announces the 2016 Johnson & Johnson Vision Care, Inc. “Innovation in education” grant recipients

Hearing loss pilot scheme 'put on hold' in Northern Ireland.

Sinead Burns appointed to GOC Council.

National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine releases Landmark Vision Study Report.

Research demonstrates success of community eye care schemes.

2016 Alfred A. Rosenbloom, jr., low vision residency award announced by AOF.

College reviews the effect of coloured overlays and lenses on reading.

The American Optometric Foundation selects the 2016 Bert c. And Lydia M. Corwin contact lens residency award recipient.

Over 4000 optometrists, doctors and nurses sign letter on web resource showing concern on the Honey Rose prosecution.

Specs online or purchased in practice, which is best asked the College?

College of Optometrists maintains fees for seventh year while providing an increased range of benefits.

Somerset-based dispensing optician suspended from GOC register.

Latest OSCE results announced by the College of Optometrists.

Changing faces of optometry: AOP marks 70 years.

News from General Optical Council Meeting.

Bristol-based optometrist suspended from GOC register.

NHS National Commissioning Framework for Hearing Services.

GOC appoints new interim Director of Resources.

College announces "New Competency Framework for all Prescribers".

Optometrist Honey Rose guilty over Vincent Barker death.

College extends information in Member media alert on Honey Rose Case.

AOP comments on Regina v Honey Rose Concluded case

Ilford-based optometrist erased from GOC register.

Eye health sector intervenes to stop patients losing sight.

Optical Confederation aims to continue with European Links following Referundum result.

On the record: a complaint has been made - new AOP legal drama launched.

GOC seeks views from its registrants.

Optical Confederation meets with new primary care minister, David Mowat MP to discuss the crucial role of the optical sector.

September 2016

David Mowat MPOptical Confederation (OC) representatives called for the roll-out of Minor Eye Care Services (MECS) to all commissioning areas across England at their first meeting with the new Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Health, David Mowat MP.

Central to the discussions were the pressures facing hospitals and GPs. Chris Hunt, OC Chair, and OC Chief Executives’ representative, Henrietta Alderman emphasised the value of community optical practitioners supporting NHS care, the public health role of the sight test and the scope for utilising local practices to allow more routine services to be brought out of hospital and provided closer to home.

This would both add extra capacity to local health systems and deliver an effective, cost efficient eye health service in the community.

Chris Hunt said: “We are heartened that the Minister was genuinely interested in how the optical sector can offer real value within a primary care setting and deliver the Five Year Forward View.

He was surprised that eye health services were not higher up the NHS agenda, a concern which we fully share. Indeed it was not clear that officials had convincing answers for this.”

Chief Executive of the AOP, Henrietta Alderman said: “Community optical professionals and practices are already proven in delivering high-quality eye care services over and above the sight test, for example, monitoring stable glaucoma patients in the community and treating minor eye problems. The OC is keen to champion community eye health services and we were pleased that the new minister shared our desire to integrate optics into the wider NHS system and primary care planning.”

The OC and Mr Mowat agreed to meet again in early 2017. Mr Mowat will also speak at the National Optical Conference in November 2016.

American Optometric Foundation announces the 2016 Johnson & Johnson Vision Care, Inc. “Innovation in education” grant recipients

September 2016

The American Optometric Foundation (AOF) in collaboration with Johnson & Johnson Vision Care, Inc., announces the 2016 Innovation in Education Grants recipients.
The grant is designed to aid recently appointed faculty in advancing their teaching skills in the areas of improving delivery of information to students, new methodologies, increasing the use of new technology in all teaching settings, and the promotion of online learning tools.

This year’s recipients received up to $6,000 to support their projects.

The 2016 Grant Recipients are:

Elena Z. Biffi, OD, PhD, FAAO
New England College of Optometry
For “Effectiveness of a Novel Smartphone App for Diagnostic Interpretation of OCT Data”

Jason Ng, OD, PhD, FAAO
Southern California College of Optometry at Marshall B. Ketchum University
For “Development of an interactive learning module to improve learning of signal detection theory”

Jingyun Wang, PhD
Pennsylvania College of Optometry at Salus University
For: Can Prompt Feedback Provided to Students Using “Poll Everywhere” Improve the Effectiveness of Optometric Education?

The AOF is thankful for the professional relationship between the Foundation and Johnson & Johnson Vision Care, Inc. Their exceptional support for this program continues to support the high caliber of optometric resident education.

Hearing loss pilot scheme 'put on hold' in Northern Ireland.

September 2016

A pilot scheme aimed at cutting waiting times for hearing loss appointments in Northern Ireland has been put on hold.

David HewlettResponding to the news NCHA Chief Executive David Hewlett said:

“Cancelling the pilot is a retrograde step for the citizens of Northern Ireland, and seeking to expand capacity in hospitals goes against all the evidence in the face of growing need. It is like trying to drain an ocean with a bucket.

“According to the leading charity, Action on Hearing Loss, “people with hearing loss in Northern Ireland are getting a worse service than anywhere else in the UK”[1] and even if solving the problem today as proposed were possible - and the evidence does not support this – this is simply storing up worse problems for tomorrow.

“It is also extremely odd public policy that overlooks readily available capacity in the community, which could be made available to the health service at relatively low cost, whilst seeking to invest scarce public money in higher-cost capacity which does not yet, and need not, exist and may not even be achievable, whilst making older patients travel further and wait longer.

“The waiting times currently being breached in Northern Ireland are 9 weeks for assessment plus a further 13 weeks for hearing aid fitting. That means despite already making people in Northern Ireland wait longer than anywhere else in the UK, people are still not seen on time. Waiting times are also only part of the problem, we also know there are significant gaps in follow-up and ongoing support care.

“Put simply, workarounds will not work and today’s announcement will continue to delay much needed change. The evidence has been overlooked and patients failed. We will be writing to the Department of Health to see how we can help ensure people with hearing loss are able to access responsive and ongoing care for their hearing loss.”

Sinead Burns appointed to GOC Council.

September 2016

Sinead Burns has been appointed as the newest lay member of the General Optical Council (GOC).

Sinead will join the GOC Council on 1 October 2016.

GOC Chair Gareth Hadley welcomed the announcement, saying: “I am delighted to welcome Sinead to Council. Sinead brings a wealth of experience of healthcare and public protection, as an occupational psychologist and through her work at the Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland. I look forward to working closely with Sinead and drawing on her insight to help us in our work of serving the interests of the public in the optical sector.”

Sinead Burns said: “I am delighted to join the GOC. The optical sector is continuing to evolve as a result of new technology and an ageing population, and it is important that regulation adapts and enables developments in eye care that benefit patients. I look forward to working alongside my fellow Council members and GOC staff to further the Council’s vital public protection work.”

Sinead is an occupational psychologist and a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. Sinead served as Commissioner for Judicial Appointments in Northern Ireland from 2005 until 2013 and is Vice President of the Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland (PSNI).

She will step down from her role at the PSNI on 30 September.

In March 2016, Sinead was appointed by Her Majesty The Queen as a Civil Service Commissioner for Northern Ireland. Sinead is also a Lay Magistrate and a Lay Representative within the Northern Ireland Medical and Dental Training Agency."

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

Sinead will replace outgoing Council member Brian Coulter, whose term finishes on 30 September 2016.

National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine releases Landmark Vision Study Report.

September 2016

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (National Academies) has released a comprehensive vision study report titled, “Public Health Approaches to Reduce Vision Impairment and Promote Eye Health.” The report proposes a population health action framework to guide action and coordination among various stakeholders in pursuit of improved eye and vision health and health equity in the United States. The American Academy of Optometry is a sponsor of the report.

The report emphasizes that the majority of individuals in the United States are at risk for some form of vision loss and impairment during their lifetimes, and that avoidable vision impairment occurs too frequently in the United States. Such impairment can increase the likelihood of a host of other problems including the risk of falls/injuries and psychological problems in adults, and developmental, academic and in some cases permanent vision loss in children.

The National Academies outlined nine recommendations to “expand public health capacities and to encourage policies and programmatic emphases that recognize improved eye and vision health as an important population health outcome and as a strategy to achieve better health quality.” The American Academy of Optometry supports the report’s recommendations to improve collaboration, coordination and synergy across the health care spectrum to ultimately make the most impact on patient care.

“The report provides a comprehensive framework that should be operationalized for clinicians such that appropriate emphasis is given to broad social, economic, cultural, health and environmental conditions and policies in the practice environment,” said spokesperson for the Academy, Anthony F. Di Stefano, OD, MPH, FAAO.

The American Academy of Optometry’s Public Health and Environmental Vision Section will present their symposium on the outcomes from the report titled, “Eye Health Promotion and Vision Impairment Reduction: Results of a National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine Study” on Thursday, November 10 from 2:30 to 4:30 PM during Academy 2016 Anaheim. The session will feature speakers from the Committee on Public Health Approaches to Reduce Vision Impairment and Promote Eye Health who authored the report, including Steven M. Teutsch, MD, MPH, Chair, Edwin Marshall, OD, MPH, FAAO, Sandra S. Block, OD, MEd, FAAO and Rohit Varma, MD, MPH.

“This report is the start of an immense opportunity to bring vision care to the forefront through a coordinated population health-based philosophy. The Academy looks forward to collaborating with other professional organizations and stakeholders as we are called upon to contribute in the implementation of these recommendations,” said Brett G. Bence, OD, FAAO, American Academy of Optometry President.

The full National Academies report can be accessed here

Research demonstrates success of community eye care schemes.

September 2016

Optometric enhanced eye care services demonstrate clinical effectiveness and are well received by patients and other stakeholders

Two research papers arising from the College of Optometrists Enhanced Scheme Evaluation Project (ESEP) and published this month, show that optometrists involved in community schemes are able to provide cataract, glaucoma and primary eye care services to patients safely and effectively. Such schemes can also result in cost savings and reduce the number of hospital eye service (HES) appointments.

The paper, ‘Evaluation of a minor eye conditions scheme delivered by community optometrists’ was published in BMJ Open and involved an in-depth analysis of the introduction of a Minor Eye Conditions Scheme (MECS) in south-east London. MECS was clinical effective and associated with high patient satisfaction. Comparisons with a neighbouring area, without a similar community eye service scheme, found a drop of 26.8% in first attendance referrals to hospital ophthalmology departments by GPs. The scheme represents a successful collaboration between commissioners, local HES units and primary healthcare providers

The other ESEP research paper, the first systematic review of the evidence on the effectiveness of these schemes, was published in the College’s international research journal Ophthalmic & Physiological Optics (OPO), in September 2016. It found that enhanced schemes reduce unnecessary referrals for suspected glaucoma in secondary care, and that UK optometrists are able to work safely in defined areas to maintain or improve the quality of outcomes for patients.

Mike Bowen, Director of Research at the College of Optometrists said; “We are very proud to be in a position to share this research, which is part of the College’s Enhanced Scheme Evaluation Project and provides some of the most thorough evidence yet for the viability, effectiveness and potential cost-savings of these schemes.

“A number of MECS schemes have been launched across the UK and have demonstrated clinical safety, reduced HES referrals, high patient satisfaction and GP trust. However, there is limited evidence on the cost-effectiveness of such schemes and this important research will contribute to this body of evidence, Hopefully, these findings will encourage commissioners to replicate these services in appropriate parts of the country, taking advantage of the likely costs savings and reducing the pressure being experienced by often overwhelmed HES.”

The College’s ESEP will be providing further, detailed evidence about the economics of these schemes, as well as the views of optometrists, ophthalmologists, patients and other stakeholders about their operation and an in-depth case study of a Glaucoma Referral Refinement Scheme in Manchester.

2016 Alfred A. Rosenbloom, jr., low vision residency award announced by AOF.

September 2016

Erin M. Kenny, OD, Low Vision Rehabilitation resident at the Eye Institute of the Pennsylvania College of Optometry at Salus University was chosen by a committee of members in the Low Vision Section of the American Academy of Optometry (AAO) as this year’s recipient for the Alfred A. Rosenbloom, Jr., Low Vision Residency Award.

Alfred A. Rosenbloom, Jr., OD, DOS, FAAO led a career marked by stellar accomplishments as a teacher, writer, lecturer and administrator and was the recipient of numerous awards. Dr. Rosenbloom was not only one of the first Ezell Fellows but published more than 75 professional journal articles on topics of low vision rehabilitation, optometric gerontology, optometric education and public health, and co-authored three major textbooks including Vision and Ageing.

The award is intended to promote the practice and development of the field of low vision by providing incentive and support to sustain talented optometric residents who demonstrate a passion and commitment to practice, research, and education. Sarah Appel, OD, FAAO, Diplomate Low Vision Rehabilitation and Associate Professor at the Pennsylvania College of Optometry William Feinbloom Vision Rehabilitation Center said “Dr. Kenny possesses a keen intellect, excellent clinical skills and a true passion for low vision rehabilitation and holistic patient care. I have no doubt she will be a significant asset to our educational program as well as the field of low vision rehabilitation.”

Of the five applicants who applied to the program, Erin presented an impressive resumee of experience in clinical, volunteer service, research, and poster presentation experience. Erin will receive a $2,000 education award and a $750 travel fellowship to attend the Academy 2016 Anaheim annual meeting in November.

College reviews the effect of coloured overlays and lenses on reading.

September 2016

The College of Optometrists’ research journal, Ophthalmic and Physiological Optics, has published a systematic review about the effect of coloured overlays and lenses on reading, by Professor Brendan Barrett at Bradford University and colleagues.

It found that the majority of studies in this area are subject to high or uncertain risk of bias in one or more key aspects of study design or outcome, and that the collected evidence suggests that placebo and observer (‘Hawthorne’) effects are likely to be responsible for any improvement. An overview of the placebo effect and a discussion of some of the implications for practitioners are provided by OPO’s Editor-in-Chief, Professor David Elliott.

The College regularly reviews its clinical guidance, and such reviews are based on the best available evidence where possible. The full implications of this latest coloured filters research will be factored into the next review (taking place over the next year) in order to ensure that we continue to help members to deliver the best possible care for patients.

Read further behind the following conclusions outlined:


Consistent with previous reviews and advice from several professional bodies, we conclude that the use of coloured lenses or overlays to ameliorate reading difficulties cannot be endorsed and that any benefits reported by individuals in clinical settings are likely to be the result of placebo, practice or Hawthorne effects.

Click here

The American Optometric Foundation selects the 2016 Bert c. And Lydia M. Corwin contact lens residency award recipient.

September 2016

Caitlin J. Morrison, OD, cornea and contact lens resident at the State University of New York College of Optometry was chosen by a committee of members in the Cornea, Contact Lenses and Refractive Technologies section of the American Academy of Optometry (AAO) as this year’s recipient for the Bert C. & Lydia M. Corwin Residency Award.

The award is intended to promote the practice and development of the field of Contact Lenses by providing incentive and support to talented optometric residents who demonstrate a passion and commitment to practice, research, and education.

David P. Libassi, OD, FAAO, Cornea and Contact Lens Residency Supervisor at the State University of New York, said “Dr. Morrison, both clinically and professionally, has been a pleasure to work with. Her dedication and work ethic will allow her to grow and develop throughout her career to be an outstanding optometric clinician.”

Of the thirteen applicants who applied to the program, Caitlin presented an impressive resume of experience in clinical, volunteer service, research, and lecture presentation. Caitlin will receive a $2,000 education award and a $750 travel fellowship to attend the Academy 2016 Anaheim annual meeting in November.

The American Optometric Foundation (AOF) is a 501(c) (3) philanthropic organization that develops and provides financial support for optometric research and education in vision and eye health to Improve patient clinical care and is an affiliate of the AAO.

Over 4000 optometrists, doctors and nurses sign letter on web resource showing concern on the Honey Rose prosecution.

August 2016

It was revealed in the Letter Page of the Times Newspaper (Saturday 27th August) that over 4000 signatories have been provided on, a web resource for those interested in the implications for patient care resulting from the increasing trend for doctors and other healthcare workers to be prosecuted in the criminal courts when patients die.

The letter stresses that the current adversarial approach in the justice system in the UK fails to take account of system failures that might have taken place.

The current approach makes it difficult to follow the duty of candour premise to work within healthcare. Over investigation will result in defensive medical practices when such catastrophes should be fully investigated.

Specs online or purchased in practice, which is best asked the College?

August 2106

Results published of first ever study comparing spectacles bought online with those bought in optometry practices.

College of Optometrists funded study comparing over 300 pairs of spectacles -found participants prefer shop bought specs over those bought online

A study commissioned by The College of Optometrists found that, when comparing spectacles bought online and those bought and fitted in optometric practices, customers preferred shop bought spectacles.

The study, published in the leading American journal Optometry and Vision Science, found that customers preferred shop-bought spectacles fitted by practice staff, ranking them higher overall than those bought online.

Researchers from the University of Bradford and Cardiff University compared 154 spectacles bought online with 155 spectacles from UK optometric practices. Participants completed a questionnaire on vision, comfort, fit, and how acceptable and safe the spectacles felt and all participants and spectacles were assessed at the University of Bradford eye clinic for clarity of vision, ocular muscle balance and fit and quality of the spectacle frames and lenses.

Mike Bowen, Director of Research for the College of Optometrists, said: “This study is important, not just because it’s the first of its kind, but also because of the rise in online purchasing. It’s important that optometrists explain to patients that someone trained in dispensing, can guide on the shape, fit and appropriateness of a certain pair of spectacles over another, which is particularly important for the elderly. As a sector, we need to prepare for the changing ways in which customers are shopping and ensure that consumers are getting a high quality service from whatever platform they choose to purchase.”

Professor David Elliott, Professor of Clinical Vision Science at the University of Bradford and principal investigator in the study said: “The results of this research should help patients understand the possible adverse effects of spectacles not being supplied correctly. This is particularly important for older patients wearing bifocals and varifocals, as frail, elderly patients need their multifocal spectacles to be fitted carefully due of the increased risk of falls in this group.”

The key College of Optometrists study findings are:
• Participants preferred shop bought spectacles dispensed by practice staff, ranking them significantly higher overall than those bought online. This was particularly true of more complex prescriptions such as Progressive Addition Lenses (PALs).

• Researchers found a higher rate of spectacles bought online were classed as unacceptable or unsafe due to incorrect measurements of pupillary distances. When ordering online, pupilary distance is usually measured and supplied by the customer and the measurements can be inaccurate.

• 79% of participants said that they would purchase their next pair of spectacles from the high street. The remaining 21% that indicated they would purchase their next pair online cited convenience, clarity in pricing, significantly lower prices and the lack of pressure to purchase amongst their reasoning.

• The average cost of online spectacles was significantly lower than the high street spectacles used in this research.

• 6% of all study spectacles were classified as unsafe. 78% of spectacles perceived as unsafe came from online suppliers. For 50% of these spectacles, the issue was due to the fit of the frame rather than the accuracy of the lens prescription.

• Significantly more online spectacles (30%) were classed as unacceptable by participants than practice bought and fitted spectacles (10%), largely due to fit and appearance.

The study resulted in the below recommendations for optometrists:

• The dispensing of PALs by online retailers using online estimations of fitting heights and estimated pupillary distance measurements should be accompanied by a warning about the potential danger of falls.

• Online retailers could improve their services by providing patients with frames to try on at home; ensuring stock matches website information; by encouraging more accurate PD measurements; and by offering a fitting service if not currently providing this service if not currently providing this service.

• High street practices should ensure patients do not feel rushed or pressured when making purchases, provide clarity with pricing and should allow sufficient time for spectacle frame adjustments. This is also supported by other research published in the College’s journal Ophthalmic & Physiological Optics(3,4).

Details of the study

309 spectacles bought online and in retail shops (where they were dispensed by practice staff), were compared by survey participants.

All spectacles were then assessed at the eye clinic of the University of Bradford for participant preference, indication of acceptability and safety (based on fit, appearance, fitting height distance being outside tolerance, amongst others), lens and frame quality and fitting and lens prescription. Preference, indication of acceptability and safety factors were measured by participants, lens and frame quality, fitting and lens prescription were assessed by an experienced dispensing optician at the eye clinic.

This research is an example of the important projects funded by the College of Optometrists. This membership year, beginning on 1 October, will see a new opportunity for members, organisations and the public to support the College’s research work. It is now inviting donations to allow individuals and organisations to play a part in the College’s work to develop evidence that is capable of advancing the profession, reduce preventable vision loss and providing accessible, high quality, eye care for all.

College of Optometrists maintains fees for seventh year while providing an increased range of benefits.

August 2016

More than 15,000 members of the College of Optometrists will benefit from a fee freeze for a seventh consecutive year. During this time the membership offering has increased considerably, with the annual number of CET events offered more than doubling, enhanced access to clinical advisers and increased efforts to improve public trust and confidence in the profession.

The new membership year, beginning on 1 October, will see a new opportunity for members, organisations and the public to support the College’s research work.

The College has played a vital role in some of the most important optometric research completed in the UK, providing millions of pounds in financial support for projects in order to develop the evidence base. It is now inviting donations to allow individuals and organisations to play a part in our work to develop evidence that is capable of advancing the profession, reduce preventable vision loss and providing accessible, high quality, eye care for all.

The College has provided hundreds of thousands of pounds in small grants, travel bursaries and collaborative awards – from summer scholarships for undergraduates and post graduate scholarships for those completing PhDs to travel bursaries, new lecturer and other small grants for hospital-based research and members working in practice. The new approach will allow the College to continue working in these areas, while developing and extending the scope of the research it supports.

Mike Bowen, Director of Research, said: “This is an exciting time for research at the College, with a number of big projects coming to fruition and many others underway. Now the profession has the opportunity to show its support for our research work by contributing to the Research Fund, which will help us build on all the great work done, and help develop the optometric research, and researchers, of the future. The College has benefitted in the past from some extraordinarily generous support from members of the profession, which has in turn benefitted the public and the wider profession. We'd like to make it easier for members of the College and wider optical sector to get involved with this area of our work in this way.”

To contribute to the Research Fund, visit the College’s donation page:

This membership year also sees the introduction of the new Member Code of Conduct, which demonstrates to patients and peers that College members have committed to the highest clinical ethical, ethical and professional standards.

The College’s new membership year starts on 1 October 2016. Member rates remain unchanged with discounts for newly-qualified, non-practicing, part-time and overseas members.

Somerset-based dispensing optician suspended from GOC register.

August 2016

The General Optical Council (GOC), the UK regulator for opticians, has suspended Adrian Pardoe, a dispensing optician based in Taunton, Somerset, from its register for a period of three months.

A GOC Fitness to Practise Committee found his fitness to practise impaired by virtue of two matters of misconduct in signing a form purporting to be a patient.

In making its decision, the Committee chair said: “The Committee noted that the Registrant had been in practice for some 20 years with a previously unblemished record and that his misconduct was atypical of his normal conduct.

However, the Committee was of the view that the forging of signatures was a serious matter involving dishonesty and a breach of his duty as a professional, and liable to bring the profession into disrepute.

“The Committee was concerned that the Registrant lacked insight into the impact of his conduct on the reputation and public confidence in the profession. Given the nature of the misconduct and the Registrant’s lack of full insight, the Committee is of the view that a finding of impairment is necessary to declare and uphold proper standards of conduct and behaviour so as to maintain public confidence in the profession.”

He has until 2 September to appeal the decision, after which he will begin a three month suspension period if an appeal is not lodged.

Latest OSCE results announced by the College of Optometrists.

August 2016

The results are in for the College of Optometrists’ latest OSCE (Objective Structured Clinical Examination). 391 candidates sat the OSCE in July – the Scheme for Registration’s final assessment – resulting in a pass rate of 75 per cent, the same pass rate as last July’s cohort.

The OSCE consists of 17 five-minute stations, made up of 16 clinical tasks and a rest station. Each station assesses the candidates’ skills, including history taking, communication, data interpretation, clinical examination and practical skills.

During the OSCE, which took place at the Royal College of General Practitioners, candidates may be tested on any of the stage two elements of competence set out by the General Optical Council. This assessment acts as a final check that competence across the framework has been achieved and maintained.

The College’s Head of Examinations, Joseph Oakley, commented: “Congratulations to the candidates who have now passed their final assessment, and I’d like to welcome them to the profession. Passing the OSCE is the culmination of a lot of hard work and those who have passed should be very proud of all they have achieved during the challenging, but rewarding, pre-registration period. Those who have passed will have demonstrated their competence across the framework and I wish them all the best in their future careers.”

The College has hosted four OSCEs a year since its inception in July 2010.

Changing faces of optometry: AOP marks 70 years.

August 2016

Celebrating 70 years of supporting members and the profession

This year, the AOP celebrates 70 years as the unrivalled provider of support for its members and one of the leading voices representing the profession.

Harry GreenIn recognition of this landmark year, the AOP’s membership journal Optometry Today interviewed lifetime member Harry Green, who shared his stand-out memories of being an optometrist including the introduction of soft contact lenses.

Mr Green, joined the Royal Air Force (RAF) as an optometrist in 1950, and then started his own practice in Highbury, London in 1953. Expressing his gratitude for AOP support throughout his professional career he added: “To the AOP I say: Good job done – and I mean that sincerely. I think the quality of the services of the Association is very high. I think joining the Association is essential.”

Since the AOP opened its doors in 1946 it has supported thousands of members throughout their careers. Now with more than 16,500 members and representing 80% of UK optometrists, it continues to support members through changes in their practice and in the sector.

Chief Executive of the AOP, Henrietta Alderman, commented:

“The AOP is proud to be in its 70th year. We have a very clear mandate to deliver for the individual member and promote the profession so that their work is widely recognised.

Creating services and guidance to help our members adapt to changing business and clinical opportunities is central to our activities. It is important that members feel supported wherever they choose to work and it is for these key reasons that our members join and stay with us.”

The AOP asked members what they value most and here are some of the highlights:

• “An organisation you can always rely on”
• “Fantastic support from the legal team – thank you!”
• “Clinical support and guidance, insurance, peer review and always there to back me up”
• “PI cover for vision aid overseas assignments”

News from General Optical Council Meeting.

July 2016

Public perceptions research.

Council was presented with findings from the GOC’s second public perceptions survey, which showed that people in the devolved nations of the UK were more likely to visit an optician if they had an acute eye problem than those in England.

31 per cent of Scots would first visit an optician if they woke up with an eye problem compared to 26 per cent in Wales, 25 per cent in Northern Ireland and just 18 per cent in England.

Across the UK just 22 per cent of respondents said they would go first to their optician, with 40 per cent saying their GP would be their first port of call.

The independent survey asked 3,252 members of the public from across the UK their views on opticians and showed continued public satisfaction with opticians.

89 per cent of respondents said they were confident they would receive a high standard of care from an optician, with 97 per cent of patients, defined as someone who had visited an optician in the past two years, reporting high satisfaction levels with the optician they had seen.

The survey also found that the main association with opticians is providing sight tests rather than detecting and treating eye health problems.

40 per cent of those surveyed saw themselves primarily as a customer when visiting their optician, closely followed by 37 per cent who saw themselves as a combination of both a customer and patient.

Only one in five (21 per cent) saw themselves as just a patient.

GOC Chief Executive and Registrar Samantha Peters said “The findings from this report are very insightful and, when combined with last year’s public survey, only serve to reinforce the need to highlight the important role optometrists and dispensing opticians can play in detecting and treating eye conditions. Optical professionals are specialists in this area, and it is vital that the whole sector raises awareness of the work they can do in this area, particularly in England where awareness is lowest.

“It is pleasing to see such a high level of public confidence in opticians, and this is reinforced by the fact that 92 per cent of respondents said they have not complained or considered complaining about their experience with an optician – the same figure as found in last year’s survey.”

The survey findings can be found in the Council paper here

Courses accredited

Council gave full accreditation to a course at Anglia Ruskin University as well as provisionally approving new courses at Cardiff University and University of Portsmouth:

·         The course accredited at Anglia Ruskin University is a Foundation of Science (FdSc) in Ophthalmic Dispensing, which had first been provisionally approved in 2010.

·         Provisional approval was given to a Masters course in Optometry (MOptom) at Portsmouth University. The MOptom is a four year course with the initial cohort of students limited to 16.

·         Provisional approval was given to a Post-Graduate Certificate in Therapeutic Prescribing for Optometrists at Cardiff University. It is to be offered to a maximum of 24 students initially.

Nockolds contract extended

Council extended the current contract for Nockolds Solicitors to provide the Opticial Consumer Complaints Service (OCCS) for a further period of two years from 1 April 2017.
Nockolds have provided the service since April 2014 and the new contract will run until March 2019.

Council noted that there had been a proactive and successful first two years for the OCCS under Nockolds’ tenure, with the core aim of the service to mediate consumer complaints being achieved.

Other news

Council approved an Internal Speaking Up (whistleblowing) policy and an internal Investigations Policy.

The Internal Speaking Up policy supports the raising of concerns that disclose allegations of wrongdoing/malpractice at the GOC, while the Internal Investigations Policy provides the framework under which complaints will be investigated.

Council also noted the timeline for the recruitment of two new registrant and two new lay Council members, due to commence their terms of office from 1 April 2017.

GOC Chair Gareth Hadley paid tribute to outgoing Council member Brian Coulter and outgoing Director of Resources Josie Lloyd. Brian finishes his second term of office on 30 September 2016 and the

GOC will name his replacement in the coming weeks.

Josie Lloyd left the GOC on 26 July to take up a new role.
Her interim replacement Mark Webster is already in place (for more details read here.

Bristol-based optometrist suspended from GOC register.

July 2016

The General Optical Council (GOC), the UK regulator for opticians, has suspended Arminder Panesar, an optometrist based in Bristol, from its register for a period of four months.

A GOC Fitness to Practise Committee found his fitness to practise impaired by virtue of four matters of misconduct relating to two patients and a criminal conviction for driving without proper insurance.

In making its decision the Committee, chaired by Ian Crookall, said: “The Committee considered that whilst the Registrant had not placed either patient at unwarranted risk of harm, he had breached fundamental tenets of his profession … and had brought his profession into disrepute. While the clinical failings identified were remediable and had mostly been remedied, the Registrant failed to demonstrate that his attitudinal problems had been addressed.

“The Committee had no confidence that the Registrant would not be susceptible in the future to allowing other pressures to override his professional responsibilities as a registrant.

The Committee considered that a period of suspension would mark the seriousness of the Registrant’s misconduct and conviction and would satisfy the public interest.”

He has until 16 August to appeal the decision, after which he will begin a four month suspension period if an appeal is not lodged. A review hearing will be held approximately four weeks before the expiry of the suspension order.

NHS National Commissioning Framework for Hearing Services.

July 2016

First ever NHS National Commissioning Framework for hearing loss promises to be a breakthrough for people with reduced hearing in England.

NHS England launched the long-awaited ‘Commissioning Services for People with Hearing Loss: A Framework for Clinical Commissioning Groups this week (19 July)– the first major deliverable from the Action Plan on Hearing Loss published jointly by the Department of Health and NHS England in 2015.

Chief Scientific Officer for England, Professor Sue Hill OBE said “…The framework represents a dedicated partnership with stakeholders and sets out a series of recommendations on how services for people living with hearing loss can be improved. I’d like to thank all the patients, professionals and organisations who have given their time, experience and knowledge to make this document so credible and compelling.”

Mark Georgevic, NCHA Chairman said: “This is a major breakthrough for patients and the sector. Despite several previous attempts since 2000 to improve hearing care, most commissioners in England are not yet getting the best deal for their local population or meeting needs in a sustainable way. The opportunities have always been there but this Framework brings the evidence together in one easily accessible format to support commissioners. There are no longer any excuses: commissioners and providers will have to respond and patients will benefit when they do.”

David Hewlett, NCHA Chief Executive said: “This Framework is a significant step forward in equality for people with hearing loss, and for CCGs who now have the tools to be able to meet growing national need. The majority of adults with hearing loss still present far too late without knowing what interventions, care and support are available. This Framework enables us to change now, within available resources, to meet growing needs and patient wishes.”

Harjit Sandhu, NCHA Director of Policy and Strategy said: “Sue Hill and the NHS England team have produced a Framework that can deliver the Five Year Forward View in this sector. As more evidence is established, we will be able to update the Framework or issue supplementary guidance. Well over 50% of CCGs can improve quality, access and value for money, and this Framework provides them with the tools to do just that”.

GOC appoints new interim Director of Resources

July 2016

The General Optical Council (GOC) has appointed Mark Webster as its new interim Director of Resources, replacing outgoing Director Josie Lloyd.

Mark, a qualified Chartered Accountant, takes up his new role on a nine month contract. Prior to joining the GOC, he worked across a variety of organisations in the not-for-profit and recruitment sectors as a Finance Director, including at The Royal London Society for Blind People, The GRS Group and The JM Group.

GOC chief executive and registrar Samantha Peters said, “I am delighted to welcome Mark to the GOC. Mark brings tremendous experience and knowledge of not only finance, but also the other functions that he will be overseeing. I, and the rest of our staff and Council members, look forward to working more closely with Mark and am excited to see the new ideas he will bring on board.”

Mark Webster said, “I am very pleased to join the GOC. It is important that we continue to use our resources effectively to enhance our work in protecting the public, and I look forward to working closely with staff and Council colleagues to help achieve this.”

As part of his duties, Mark will be responsible for the oversight of the Finance, HR, IT, Registration and Facilities functions. He has been appointed on a nine month contract until April 2017.

College announces "New Competency Framework for all Prescribers".

July 2016

A new, updated and restructured Competency Framework for all Prescribers has been published today (14 July) by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) after collaboration with the College of Optometrists, all the prescribing professions, and patients.

The Competency Framework outlines a common set of key competencies central to effective performance needed by all prescribers, regardless of their professional background.

The Framework helps support healthcare professionals to be safe, effective prescribers. It can be used by any prescriber to underpin professional responsibility for prescribing and also by regulators, education providers and professional organisations to inform guidance and advice. It will also help patients and carers identify good prescribing practice.

The Framework sets out ten competencies, focused on the consultation process and prescribing governance, within which are statements describing the activity or outcomes prescribers should be able to demonstrate.

RPS President Ash Soni said: “Both the number of medicines prescribed and the complexity of medicine regimes are increasing. The challenges associated with prescribing the right medicines and supporting patients to use them effectively should not be underestimated.

“There’s lots of evidence to show that much needs to be done to improve the way we prescribe and support patients in effective medicines use. This user-friendly guide will be invaluable and I’m delighted the RPS has co-ordinated the update.”

Dr Mary-Ann Sherratt (MCOptom), President of the College of Optometrists said; “The College is proud to have worked with organisations representing several professions to update this important framework. The resulting document gives very clear direction for safe and effective prescribing which will be relevant to our members, and we would encourage IP optometrists to consult the framework to support their continuing professional development.”

Dowenload or view: Prescribing Competency Framework

Optometrist Honey Rose guilty over Vincent Barker death.

Locum Optometrist for Boots Opticians in Ipswich has been found guilty of gross negligence manslaughter in a case that is the first of its kind involving an Optometrist.

Honey Rose Locum Optometrist
Although stating she thought she had “done her best” for him in a routine eye appointment the jurors decided that she was guilty in what the prosecution had claimed was her conduct which had been so far below the expected standard it was "criminal".

Retinal images had been taken by another staff member shortly before he was examined by Rose which it is said suggested he had bilateral papilloedema - a condition in which optic discs at the back of each eye become swollen because of raised pressure within the skull.

Jonathan Rees QC, prosecuting, said this "would have been obvious to any competent optometrist" and should have led to an urgent referral to treat "a life-threatening condition".

Det Supt Tonya Antonis from Suffolk Police said: "If this case makes the optometry profession reflect on their practices and review their policies to prevent it happening to anyone again, or encourages other parents to take their children to get their eyes tested with the knowledge that any serious issues would be picked up, then it will be worthwhile."

Honey Rose believed in her defense that she was given the wrong retinal images to view and that her ophthalmoscope inspection was made difficult bet the patient closing his eyes.

[“It was seem of importance that all systems providing pretest information, often carried out by auxiliary assistants must be linked to each patient and must have some methodology where their viewing has been signed off by the clinician in charge of the patient journey.ED]

College extends information in Member media alert on Honey Rose Case.

July 2016

Members will probably have read media reports of the verdict of the case of Honey Rose, an optometrist who has been convicted of gross negligence manslaughter today at Ipswich Crown Court.

Honey Rose is not a member of the College, but as this trial is unprecedented, we would like to help support you in addressing any of the immediate professional concerns surrounding the case that you might have and in answering any questions you may be asked by patients.

Firstly, papilloedema is very rare and this is the first time ever that an optometrist has ever faced a charge of this seriousness. You should reassure your patients that sight tests in the UK are regulated and have to meet a set standard to ensure they are capable of detecting disease, injury or abnormality in the eye or elsewhere.

Profession’s Standards of Practice

As your professional body, we support you in meeting standards set by the General Optical Council (GOC). The College’s Guidance for professional practice outlines how you can apply the GOC’s standards every day in practice and covers the following areas; how to conduct a routine eye exam, how to examine children, how an optometrist should safely and correctly keep patient records and when you should refer a patient to an ophthalmologist. The main references in the College’s Guidance that apply in these areas are A40, A61 and C171.

Professional development advice

Keep up-to-date and give patients the best care that you can. To do that we advise that you:

• Keep informed: We have a range of materials that can help you develop your knowledge of conditions, including AMD, cataract, diabetic retinopathy and papilloedema.

• Use our clinical guidance to guide your actions: As well as our Guidance for professional practice, we have more detailed guidance on many topics, Clinical Management Guidelines and Using Evidence in Practice.

• Discuss our case studies with your colleagues: We have many case studies which you can use in formal or informal discussion sessions with your colleagues in practice. For those of you with a particular interest in papilloedema, you may find this case study useful.

• Complete our retinal photography audit training and audit template, ideal for locums and practitioners who delegate retinal photography.

• E-books available through the College library may be useful to you. Wills Eye manual and Yanoff ophthalmology have detailed sections describing papilloedema.

• If you have any concerns about your day-today practice, please contact the College’s clinical advisers for independent and impartial advice on 020 7766 4372 or at email

Patient questions

We have included some suggested pre-prepared answers in relation to the case below:

1. What is papilloedema?

Papilloedema is a swelling of the optic disc (the area of the optic nerve that enters the eye). It is typically seen in both eyes and is most commonly due to increased intracranial pressure. There are many possible causes of raised intracranial pressure. It is often accompanied by symptoms such as headaches, transient visual loss, double vision and sickness, although not always. When an optometrist detects papilloedema, they will normally make an emergency referral, which means the patient will be seen by an ophthalmologist within 24 hours.

2. How common/unusual is it?

Papilloedema is a rare condition. However the most common cause of papilloedema, idiopathic intracranial hypertension, is increasing due to the rising prevalence of obesity. Although papilloedema is most common in women, it can affect children and adults of any age.

3. Can it be treated?

In most cases it can be treated. Treatment will be directed at the underlying cause of the increased intracranial pressure. It is normally treated by a neurologist, with input from an ophthalmologist.

4. Should parents ensure their optometrist checks their child’s eyes for it?

At every eye examination an optometrist will assess the optic nerve, by looking at the back of the eye with a slit-lamp microscope or an ophthalmoscope. Increasingly, in addition to this, optometrists may use retinal cameras in to assess the back of the eye, including the optic nerve.

You might also direct them to our consumer-facing website Look After Your Eyes in understanding more about the role of the optometrist, children’s eye health and various eye conditions.

Remember that you can always call or email us with your questions or concerns: If you have any clinical or professional concerns, our advisers can support you.

AOP comments on Regina v Honey Rose concluded case.

July 2016

The Association of Optometrists (AOP) is aware that AOP member, Ms Honey Rose, has been convicted of gross negligence manslaughter in the case of Vincent Barker.

This is a tragic case which is devastating for all concerned and our sympathies go to the Barker family at this time. We are naturally extremely disappointed for our member, Ms Rose, in the outcome of the case.

The case, a criminal one involving an optometrist on clinical matters, is the first of its kind in the UK. There are millions[1] of sight tests undertaken in the UK each year. Optometrists adhere to strict standards of practice set out by the regulatory body, the General Optical Council (GOC).

We are aware that Ms Rose is currently before the GOC in a Fitness to Practise hearing and as a result we are unable to comment further at this time.

Ilford-based optometrist erased from GOC register.

July 2016

The General Optical Council (GOC), the UK regulator for opticians, has erased Ricky Patel, an optometrist based in Ilford, from its registers.

He is now unable to practise as an optometrist in the UK.

A GOC Fitness to Practise Committee at a review hearing found his fitness to practise impaired by virtue of a failure to remediate deficiencies in his knowledge and practice.

This finding followed an earlier suspension for failing to conduct a proper and adequate eye examination, making inadequate records and dealing inadequately with the onward referral process. The Committee noted that he had been given opportunities during his suspension period to remediate his performance deficiencies, but had failed to do so.

In delivering its decision the Committee chair said: “Although the Registrant’s deficiencies were remediable, he had failed to attempt remediation or show any insight, despite having been given two years to do so.

The Committee was influenced by the Registrant’s determination not to engage in the fitness to practise process and continued lack of any insight into his deficiencies. This demonstrated a lack of insight into his own misconduct and ongoing impairment.

“In the Committee’s view, the only appropriate sanction in the circumstances of this case, was erasure. This was the only sanction available to the Committee which was capable of providing sufficient protection to patients and maintaining confidence in the optical profession.”

He has until 10 August 2016 to appeal his erasure, during which time he is suspended from the register and is unable to practise. If no appeal is lodged, he will be erased from the register on 13 August 2016.

Eye health sector intervenes to stop patients losing sight.

July 2016

Warnings that hospital initiated delays and cancelled follow up appointments are at crisis point, putting patients' sight at risk, have led to a new cross-sector initiative to release pressure off the hospital eye services by treating more people in the community.

To meet these challenges the Clinical Council for Eye Health Commissioning (CCEHC), which represents the major charity, clinical and provider organisations in the sector, has stepped in to launch a new Primary Eye Care Framework1 for eye health services. The Framework will help commissioners address capacity issues in their area by delivering more support in primary care settings in line with the NHS Five year Forward View.

The new Framework complements the Community Ophthalmology Framework2, published by the Clinical Council in 2015, and will empower commissioners and providers to release capacity within hospital through a multidisciplinary approach to treat the right patient in the most appropriate service.

Launching the new framework David Parkins, Chair of the Clinical Council said: “Patients are now at risk of losing their sight because of delayed appointments and capacity pressures. Radical change is needed and we urge all Clinical Commissioning Groups and Local Eye Health Networks to measure their existing services against these frameworks and use them to expand local capacity to meet need as part of their local Sustainability and Transformation Plans.”

President of The Royal College of Ophthalmologists, Professor Carrie MacEwen, supports the review of services to ease pressure on overstretched hospital eye services and said: “It is critical that the ophthalmic sector develops frameworks that support the growing demands made on the multi-disciplinary workforce. This team provides primary and secondary care for patients and we need to ensure that it is delivered through consistent and recognised training and education standards. We advocate the right eye care professional, at the right time and in the right setting.”

1, 2 Click here

Optical Confederation aims to continue with European Links following Referundum result.

July 2016

Over the next few months, as the UK negotiates the terms of exit from the EU, the Optical Confederation will continue to monitor the situation, emerging legislation and trade deals closely and seek to influence any changes for the benefit of the professions, sector and patients.

OC members will continue in the years ahead to participate in ECOO, Eurom1 and EuromContact and the European Coalition for Vision (ECV) for the benefits these bring, just as Switzerland, Norway and other non-EU countries do, and will continue to share expertise across borders for the eye health of all.

On the record: a complaint has been made - new AOP legal drama launched.

July 2016

The Association of Optometrists (AOP) has launched a new legal drama film, On the record: a complaint has been made, which aims to better inform members of the legal risks of running and working in a busy optical practice.

The film presents a practice-based scenario covering a variety of issues including practice scheduling of sight tests/ eye examinations, maintaining accurate records, dealing with missed appointments, workplace bullying and receiving a General Optical Council (GOC) complaint.

The drama is followed by a discussion between the AOP’s Legal and Regulatory Director, Gerda Goldinger and Deputy Legal Director, Fiona Mitchell, on the issues seen in the film and the steps practitioners should take to prevent a similar occurrence.

The film has been based on the script of the 2015 AOP legal roadshows. Commenting on the conversion of the script to a film, Gerda Goldinger said: “The issues raised in the film are examples of some of the many matters that the AOP legal department deals with on a daily basis. In 2015 the AOP’s in-house legal team received more than 3,800 enquiries, a 32% increase from 2014. It is more important than ever for us to inform members of potential legal pitfalls when practising and the standards to which eye care professionals are expected to adhere. In reproducing the script as a short film we significantly increase the amount of members who can access our advice.”

The film has been funded through generous donations from the Central Optical Fund and the original Optical Consumer Complaints Service (OCCS). Ruth Cuthbert, Chairman of the Central Optical Fund said: “The Central Optical Fund is pleased to support the AOP in the making of this film. It will help to highlight the effect that commercial pressures can have on the delivery of high quality patient care throughout all forms of practice. The directors of the Central Optical Fund encourage all AOP members and Optometry Today (OT) subscribers to watch the film.”

Richard Wilshin, Company Secretary of the original OCCS, said of their donation: “We are delighted that our donation from the assets of the original OCCS has helped to support this video for the benefit of those in optics.”

The film can be viewed online by AOP members and OT subscribers from 1 July to 29 December 2016. One non-interactive CET point is available for optometrists and dispensing opticians.

A trailer for the film is available to watch here. The full length film can be viewed here.

GOC seeks views from its registrants.

July 2016

The General Optical Council (GOC) is seeking views from its registrants on its performance and the challenges faced by the optical professions.

The 2016 Registrant Survey – conducted online by independent research company Enventure Research - is being undertaken to enable the regulator to better understand registrants’ experience of the 2013-15 Continuing Education and Training (CET) cycle, the implementation of new Standards of Practice and registrants’ perceptions of the GOC as a regulator.

The survey will also look at registrants’ views on the optical professions more widely, including potential challenges faced in the workplace and how the professions might develop over the next few years.

Samantha PetersSamantha Peters, GOC Chief Executive and Registrar, said: “It is important we listen to the views of registrants so that we can improve our performance and deliver a better service to registrants. We also want to know more about the challenges faced by registrants in the workplace so we can develop guidance and standards to support them in delivering high quality care to patients and the public.

“We have appointed an independent research company to carry out this survey so that registrants can be honest with us about our performance and about their views on life as an optical professional. The survey explores important issues, such as whether registrants have ever felt undue pressure in the workplace and their views on the future of optics, including the development of enhanced services. Each response will be treated anonymously and we will we will take the findings into account to improve services and develop our next strategic plan. I therefore urge all registrants to take 15 minutes or so to respond to the survey.”

The deadline to complete the survey is 5 August 2016.

All registrants will receive an email from Enventure Research with a link to complete the survey.


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