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

Opchat Magazine Professional Matters PagesProfessional Matters News, October to December 2016

College of Optometrists publishes report preparing the professions for future challenges.
Specsavers letters – Round 2! From AIO.
GOC consults on Education Strategic Review.
Samantha Peters to stand down as GOC Chief Executive and Registrar.
American Academy of Optometry Announces Dr. Fuensanta A. Vera-Diaz as 2017 Career Development Awardee
Hertfordshire-based optometrist erased from GOC register.
The American Optometric Foundation Announces The 2016 VSP Global Scholarship Recipients.
Royal Society of Medicine announces President Elect for the GP with Primary Healthcare Section.
AIO sees red over Specsavers approach to Independents.
GOC announces new appointments
Annual FODO DIT lecture discusses future of Irish optics.
GOC News from yesterdays GOC Council Meeting.
David Hewlett representing the ECV addresses the European Parliament MEPs in a speech entitled “Preventing sight loss in an ageing population”
Latest College of Optometrists Fellowships recognise outstanding contributions to the profession.
New advice helps patients manage eye conditions.
GOC recruiting four new Council members.
Optical Confederation urges optical practices to promote Road Safety Week.
PCSE - Frequently Asked Questions now posted by LOCSU.
Children’s eye health on the agenda.
The Association of Optometrists launches new membership grade to support members through parental leave.
College of Optometrists calls for applications for elected positions on its Council.
FODO Hosts Professional Bodies Digital Leadership Summit
Irish Government announces Treatment Benefit Scheme.
European Coalition for Vision backs Marrakesh Treaty.
The Optical Confederation has announced that Chris Hunt will step down as Chairman when he completes his two year term of office on 23 October.
College of Optometrists hosts roundtable to prepare the professions for future challenges.

College of Optometrists publishes report preparing the professions for future challenges.

December 2016

The College of Optometrists has published a summary report following the 'Optical professions: what does the future hold?’ event held in September. The roundtable meeting involved stakeholder organisations from across the sector in discussions to prepare the profession for future developments, as highlighted by the recent Foresight and Optical Workforce Survey (OWS) reports.

The roundtable event was attended by representatives of the following organisations: The Association of British Dispensing Opticians, Association Of Contact Lens Manufacturers, the Association of Optometrists, British Contact Lens Association, the College Of Optometrists, Federation of Ophthalmic and Dispensing Opticians, the General Optical Council, Local Optometric Committee Support Unit, the Optical Confederation, Optometry Northern Ireland, Optometry Schools Council, Optometry Scotland, and Optometry Wales.

The resulting report addresses significant issues facing the sector such as the effects of automation, deregulation and the increasing numbers of optometry graduates. The report outlines six essential areas for joint action, listed below:

• Continuing to press for IT connectivity in England, already begun by the Optical Confederation and the College
• Plan for potential changes to business models
• Review education and training as a whole - from university through to CPD which is already being led by the GOC
• Prepare practitioners for change
• Look at the requirements for future regulation and governance
• Examine in more detail the data that suggested a gender pay gap, which the College has begun working on with the AOP.

Michael Bowen, Director of Research at the College of Optometrists, and presenter at the event said; “This meeting was a great starting point in addressing the challenges that await us as a result of emerging technology and a sector that is changing. It’s vital that we, as a sector, are proactive in tackling these issues to make sure that we are prepared. As a next step, we will involve government advisers, as well as industry and business leaders, and the College is looking forward to leading this change.”

Specsavers letters – Round 2! From AIO.

December 2016.

AIO calls for Independents to determine their own future.

In response to the second round of letters to Independents from Specsaver’s Chairman, Doug Perkins, the AIO concludes that it needs to offer independents’ their own destiny outside of the “Specsavers Big Family”.

Members of the Association for Independent Optometrists and Dispensing Opticians (AIO) have received further correspondence from Specsavers once again urging them to become part of the ‘Specsavers family’.

The letter is available for download here.

The letters have quite understandably caused a lot of animated exchanges over various Internet forums and social media. It is fair to say that these exchanges have, as before, been almost universally hostile to Specsavers approaches.

AIO members are fiercely determined not only to protect the Independent sector, but to promote it as a destination of choice for qualified Optometrists and Dispensing Opticians. Indeed the Association believes that there are many practitioners employed in the multiples that have the ambition to own and run their own Independent practice.

AIO, as the only professional body that solely represents Independents, is working hard both to protect Independent practice and to promote it. As a linchpin for the former it has introduced the Independents’ Code (IC) as the distinguishing mark for the delivery of excellent long term eye health care by Independents on the High Street. The Code is now live in practices across the country and being actively promoted within the local communities in which IC subscribers operate.

In terms of helping aspiring Independents to own their own practice, AIO is working with a number of external stakeholders and product and service suppliers to construct a facilitated route map to assist them to realise their ambition. This was kicked off with the inclusion of a special ‘aspiring Independents’ event at the AIO Conference in Cardiff in October and will be a feature at the 2017 Conference on 8th and 9th October in Cambridge.

Peter Warren, Chairman of AIO commented: ‘Whilst we are pleased to see that Specsavers have moderated the content of the letters they are sending to Independent practice owners, we are a little surprised they continue to do so against a backdrop of the considerable hostility the first set of letters caused. It is the job of AIO to get the message out, that there is a not for profit professional body that is working to ensure there is a long term, sustainable and commercially attractive future for all those that value their independence.‘

Specsavers have written to many Independents setting out one option for the future of their practice. AIO will now be writing to all Independents in the New Year setting out an alternative option that is geared not only to protect existing practices, but to attract new blood into the sector.’

AIO and PHN are media partners and you can find out more about AIO by clicking here.

Doug Perkins will be speaking at 100% Optical on the Saturday afternoon for those interested in hearing his point of view face to face. Go here to register.

GOC consults on Education Strategic Review.

December 2016

The General Optical Council (GOC) has published a call for evidence to launch its Education Strategic Review. The main aim of the review is to ensure that education programmes and qualifications leading to GOC registration equip students to meet patients’ future needs, as technological change and the increased prevalence of enhanced services are altering the roles that optometrists and dispensing opticians play in delivering eye care.

The GOC is now seeking views from a wide range of stakeholders – optical professionals and students, education providers, patient representatives, employers, professional bodies, commissioners and fellow regulators; with a view to publishing a statement summarising the responses and setting out the way forward in spring 2017.

Alistair Bridge, GOC Director of Strategy, said: “The Education Strategic Review will be crucial in ensuring that the UK’s system of optical education prepares optical professionals for the roles of the future and therefore serves the best interests of patients and the wider public.

“The optical sector is undergoing major change and we must be forward thinking. Optical professionals will need to be fully equipped to tackle the challenges of the coming decades, working closely with other professionals, particularly ophthalmologists, orthoptists and ophthalmic nurses, as part of a flexible healthcare workforce.

“If we are to make the best possible improvements to the system, it is essential that we hear from a wide range of voices. This is a great opportunity to influence the future direction of the optical professions so I strongly encourage everyone with an interest in eye care to let us know their views.”

The call for evidence is now open and will run until Thursday 16 March 2017. To find out more about the Education Strategic Review and to respond to the consultation, please visit:

Carrying out and implementing the Education Strategic Review is one of the main objectives set out in the GOC’s draft strategic plan for the three years from April 2017 to March 2020. We are also consulting on the draft strategic plan at the moment. The consultation closes on Monday 23 January 2017.

Samantha Peters to stand down as GOC Chief Executive and Registrar.

December 2016

The General Optical Council (GOC) has today announced that its Chief Executive and Registrar, Samantha Peters, will leave the organisation after six years next summer to focus on studying.

Samantha PetersSamantha’s last day will be 13 June 2017. She intends to take a significant break from her career, particularly to focus on her PhD in kindness, compassion and altruism. Her PhD research, at Bath University, has a particularly strong focus on the failings in care at Mid-Staffs which prompted the Francis Inquiry.

GOC Chair, Gareth Hadley, said: “We will be sad to see Samantha go but it is a very exciting time for her as she focuses on her studies. The same thoughtful and strategic approach that she took to her role at the GOC will undoubtedly stand her in good stead as she tackles a fascinating, but also highly complex, research project. I look forward to seeing the outcome published; it will make a seminal contribution to future thinking on healthcare.

“Her achievements in six years at the GOC are significant. She has overseen the transformation of CET, the introduction of new standards which the professions are really embracing, and great improvements both in our stakeholder engagement and in the efficiency with which we carry out our core regulatory functions. She has also overseen the modernisation of the organisation, including the move to our new fit for purpose office.

“During her time here, Samantha spearheaded development of the Council’s values - being responsible, principled and forward thinking. She has embedded those values into how we work as well, leading by example by personifying those values in all she does. We wish Samantha all the best for the future – her successor will have a lot to live up to.”

Samantha Peters said, “It is with great sadness that I will say goodbye to the GOC next summer. I am confident though that the organisation is in a great place to meet the significant challenges caused by the rapid pace of technological change in the sector and the need to modernise the education of optical professionals.

“Although my plans for my career break are exciting I will look back on my time at the GOC extremely fondly. In particular it has been a pleasure to work with such a committed team and I wish everyone all the best for the future.”

The GOC will announce a plan to recruit Samantha’s successor in the New Year.

[Ed.s Note, Sad to see you go, we have seen a significant change and pace in the GOC during your stay. Hope you can give a good steer to the Education Review, before you go]

American Academy of Optometry Announces Dr. Fuensanta A. Vera-Diaz as 2017 Career Development Awardee

December 216

The American Academy of Optometry is pleased to announce Fuensanta A. Vera-Diaz, OD, PhD, FAAO, as the 2017 Academy Career Development award recipient.

The Academy will provide a maximum of $50,000 in direct costs per year for up to two years, potentially renewable once for a total of up to four years of funding. The New England College of Optometry will provide matching funds, dollar for dollar, up to $50,000 per year for each year of funding.

Dr. Vera-Diaz was selected from a pool of applicants by an Academy committee based on the potential for growth and future major extramural funding. The funding will help her support her hypothesis-based, yet clinically-focused research that emphasizes optometric procedures and therapies related to prevent and treat refractive error and amblyopia.

The Career Development award is designed for optometric educators and scientists involved in research including clinical, patient-oriented, educational, etc., as long as the case can be made for the potential to acquire future extramural funding.

Preference is for innovative, original, independent, Principal Investigator (PI)-driven projects.

It has been recognized for some time that young investigators, including optometric investigators, take many years after the inception of their careers before successfully acquiring Federal research funding. In fact, the mean age of first time National Institutes of Health (NIH) grantees is over 40 years of age. In an effort to positively influence and reduce the age at which early stage optometric researchers attain large scale federal support, the Academy launched the Career Development Award.

“This Award is very important for the development of my research and academic career, and I am truly appreciative of the support from the Academy and NECO. This Award will serve to conduct a research project titled ‘Peripheral and Binocular Retinal Signals in Human Myopia.’ The goal of the project is to identify the specific aspects of retinal image quality that are associated with the development of myopia (nearsightedness) in each individual. This is a key question in understanding the mechanism of myopia and possibly in creating successful interventions to treat it,” Dr. Vera-Diaz said in a statement.

Dr. Vera-Diaz, an Academy Fellow since 2012, is a full-time tenure-track Assistant Professor of Optometry at the New England College of Optometry. Her research is aimed at providing insight into the effect of retinal image quality in myopia and will serve as supportive evidence for a subsequent larger study on the etiology of human myopia. The goal of her studies beyond this project is to develop individualized optical correction and 3D digital therapies that will slow the progression of existing myopia and eventually prevent myopia.

Research shows community eye care schemes are successful for all stakeholders

December 2016

Optometric enhanced eye care services receive positive review from all stakeholders in first study of its kind

New research funded by the College of Optometrists has found that enhanced eye care schemes are viewed positively by those involved, including commissioners, patients and providers.

The qualitative study, published by BMJ Open explored the views of patients, community optometrists, General Practitioners (GPs), commissioners and ophthalmologists. The research covered a minor eye conditions scheme (MECS) in the London boroughs of Lambeth and Lewisham and a glaucoma referral refinement scheme (GRRS) in Manchester. The study was conducted by researchers from City, University of London and the Manchester Royal Eye Hospital and is a follow up to previous qualitative evidence also developed through the College of Optometrists’ Enhanced Scheme Evaluation Project (ESEP) also published in BMJ Open.

The latest research findings were:
• 99 per cent of MECS patients would recommend the service.
• 99 per cent (GRRS) and 100 per cent (MECS) of patients were satisfied with the examination conducted by their optometrist.
• Optometric training for both schemes was valuable and appropriate but should be ongoing.
• Ophthalmologists expressed very positive views and widely acknowledged that these new care pathways would reduce unnecessary referrals into hospital eye services and shorten patient waiting times.
• Commissioners felt both schemes met or exceeded expectations in terms of quality of care, allowing patients to be seen quicker and more efficiently.
• 95 per cent of patients in both schemes had confidence and trust in their optometrist.
• No major negatives were reported, although both schemes were limited to patients resident within certain postcode areas and some inappropriate GP referrals occurred. It was notable that communications with hospitals was praised in GRRS but was variable, depending on the hospital, for MECS.

Mike Bowen, Director of Research for the College of Optometrists said; “This research provides important evidence on the viability and effectiveness of these schemes and it shows the benefit of optometrists working to provide extended primary care eye services. These findings are especially important because this is the first multi-stakeholder study of enhanced eye care services to include the views of patients and commissioners.”

The College of Optometrists’ ESEP aims to provide evidence about optometrist’s involvement in community schemes. Previous publications include an in-depth analysis of the introduction of a MECS in south-east London published in BMJ Open and the first systematic review of the evidence on the effectiveness of these schemes, published in the College’s international research journal Ophthalmic & Physiological Optics (OPO).

The College’s ESEP will continue to provide further evidence about the health economics and potential cost-savings of the enhanced schemes in Lambeth and Lewisham and Manchester in 2017.

Hertfordshire-based optometrist erased from GOC register.

December 2016

The General Optical Council (GOC), the UK regulator for opticians, has erased Anthony Plimmer, an optometrist based in Hertfordshire, from its registers.

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

A GOC Fitness to Practise Committee found his fitness to practise impaired by virtue of multiple failures in patient care and record keeping. He had been under conditional GOC registration for nearly four years but the Committee found that he had not remediated his deficiencies and there was a risk of repetition in the future.

In making its decision the Committee Chair said: “Four years have now elapsed since the original conditional registration was imposed, and the Registrant has not, in that time, demonstrated remediation. The Committee concluded that there was no other way both to protect the public and to meet the wider public interest, than to impose an order for erasure from the Register.”

His current conditional registration order expires on 9 January 2017 and should no appeal be made against the erasure order, he will be erased from the register on that date.

The American Optometric Foundation Announces The 2016 VSP Global Scholarship Recipients.

December 2016

The American Optometric Foundation (AOF), an affiliate of the American Academy of Optometry (AAO), and VSP Global announced the recipients of this year’s Practice Excellence Scholarships. Nearly $200,000 will be distributed amongst top-performing fourth-year optometry students in the U.S., Puerto Rico and Canada.

“As a practicing optometrist, I know how critical it is to invest in the next generation of eye doctors,” said Dan Mannen, O.D., F.A.A.O., VSP Global Board Chairman. “We congratulate all the scholarship recipients and are excited for them as they embark on their new careers and begin to help elevate the optometric profession.”

Two students from each school or college of optometry were selected by nomination of their individual institutions to receive the scholarship. Since 2010, VSP has provided more than $1.5 million in scholarship support to hundreds of optometry students.

The scholarships are funded through VSP Global‘s Eyes of Hope® Global Charitable Fund in collaboration with FYi Doctors in Canada (for Canadian recipients) and is administered through the AOF. Some of the key criteria for selecting the scholarship recipients included the student’s commitment to enter the independent practice of optometry, clinical performance, and academic performance.

“Year after year we partner with VSP and the schools and colleges of optometry to provide these scholarships to deserving students because we see the importance of investing in the future of our profession,” said David Kirschen, OP, PhD, FAAO, and President of the American Optometric Foundation. “More importantly, the scholarships that are awarded help to indirectly impact the delivery of quality eye care and ensure patient needs are met.”

The scholarship includes a travel grant to participate in the American Academy of Optometry's 95th annual meeting November 9-12, 2016 at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, CA where there will also be special planned reception to recognize the recipients. The VSP Global AOF Practice Excellence Scholarship reception will take place Thursday, November 10th 4:00-5:45pm.

The 2016 Practice Excellence Scholarship recipients are to be found by clicking here.

Royal Society of Medicine announces President Elect for the GP with Primary Healthcare Section.

December 2016

Bob HutchinsonIt was announced this week that Bob Hutchinson has been elected by the Council of the GP with Primary Healthcare Section, the largest section of the Royal Society of Medicine, as their next President, taking office next year in October.

Hutchinson will be only the second President not to have been qualified as a medical practitioner in the section’s long history and will certainly be the first optometrist.

As President Elect he will begin working with the RSM’s academic Department planning the educational and training programme for his two years in office early next year.

After the announcement, Bob Hutchinson said, “I am honoured to have been provided with this opportunity to work with my Council from 2017 to 2019 in continuing to provide a programme of excellence in training.

We will focus as usual on our courses for GPs and ensuring that those coming through the ranks to provide additional services to an ageing population will benefit.

“I will also be continuing the work of the current President, Doctor Horsewood-Lee in encouraging a greater involvement from those working in the primary care sector. I will extend a warm welcome to all those in primary care, especially optometrists and dispensing opticians in joining the RSM and of course our section. Learning about each other’s work and networking together will be my target for my two years in office.”

The GP and Primary Health Section membership of the RSM is over 1200 strong made up of GPs, Registrars and students, plus nurses, pharmacists, speech- physio- and other therapists, optometrists and other primary care professions.

Hutchinson has spent much of his career both as an independent and hospital optometrist as well as an avid supporter of independent practice and public vision education.

Well known to many professionals and manufacturers for his career that has spanned both sectors other than his extensive professional optical council work he is probably best known by older practice managers and owners for his determined stance to see overpaid VAT paid back to the profession involving a judicial review that became a tax case precedent in law.

AIO sees red over Specsavers approach to Independents.

December 2016

In response to a letter sent to Independent Opticians from Specsavers Guernsey, signed by Doug Perkins, the company founder and Group Chairman the AIO has reacted quickly over the possible loss of enhanced service provision from independents to the Specsavers group.

The Specsavers letter is printed in full here:

Click this link

It encourages independents to join the Specsavers “family”, which is making a “significant multi-media” investment in a pact with the RNIB to educate the public on eye health.
Specsavers have already 2000 optometrists with additional skills to provide MECS type services and the letter states they will be upgrading their accreditation services to be able to bid for NHS and CCG contracts to become the referred source of minor eye conditions in patients.

Specsavers claims it has already over 200 contracts in place although it is not clear if some or all have been in partnership with LOCs and their LOC/Private companies. It also says it has 16 full time NHS liaison specialists already reacting to requests to bid for contracts.

The AIO has taken this as a threat to the very existence of MECS contracts in the future being offered to independents outside the Specsavers family and as a push to attempt to corner the market on enhanced services as Specsavers did in receiving the DVLA contract, that again the AIO was almost its sole antagonist to go live at the time.

The Association for Independent Optometrists and Dispensing Opticians (AIO) has written to all CCGs and the NHS to advise them that it would consider the awarding of any MECS contract to a single commercial interest as being anti-competitive and not in patients best interests.

Read the published letter here.

The AIO has also written to all Independent practices advising that they the AIO are the only “professional body” solely representing the interests of independents.

This could turn out to be AIO’s “Richmond Liberal By-election moment, or maybe SPEXIT!” if independents lose trust in LOCSU and other professional and trade bodies standing up for their equal rights.

The AIO reminds all that Independents once again recorded the highest satisfaction rating amongst all optical outlets in a recent “Which?” survey.

The AIO asks “Surely the NHS and CCGs would not consider acting anti competitively and diverting patients away from those practices that they have deemed to offer best service.”

Whilst the threat remains from the Specsavers approach which can be seen as a plan of growing its practice numbers it may also have the equivalent effect of expanding the AIO membership.

Decisive action and statements are needed from those like LOCSU, the AOP and FODO who together have spent millions of practice cash in getting to where we are today with a reasonable enhanced service offer in most regions. It seems not quick enough for Perkins and Specsavers?

Let’s ask the question in reverse and consider the public benefit of a speedier conclusion to full MECS services across the country. When looked at from that direction how will the vision charities, RNIB and for that matter ophthalmologists and our own College receive this news?

Since the DVLA saga and the new look medico-clinical stance taken by Specsavers and propounded by Perkins at last year’s 100% Optical lecture this maybe the penultimate game play that many expected.

Doug Perkins is back on the main stage at 100% Optical on the Saturday, so it should be a packed house if anybody out there is interested?


GOC announces new appointments

December 2016

The General Optical Council (GOC) has today announced two appointments to its senior management team.

Mark Webster, who has been in place on an interim basis since July 2016, has now been appointed as Director of Resources on a permanent basis.

Prior to joining the GOC Mark 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.
Mark is responsible for the oversight of the GOC’s Finance, HR, IT, Registration and Facilities functions.

The GOC has also appointed Safia Iman as interim Director of Fitness to Practise, covering maternity leave for Lisa Davis.

Safia joins the GOC from 23 Essex Street where she works as a Barrister specialising in the area of regulatory law. She brings an extensive range of expertise which includes both representing and working within a range of professional regulators.
Safia will join the GOC on 7 December 2016 on a nine month contract.

Samantha Peters, GOC Chief Executive and Registrar, said: “These appointments will ensure we continue to have the right level of expertise to deliver effective public protection.

“Mark has very much impressed over the last four months and is a real asset to have on a permanent basis. He will ensure we continue to use our resources efficiently and effectively, whilst driving value for money out of everything we do.

“Safia has a unique skill set and extensive experience of professional regulation. She will ensure that the fitness to practise function continues to deliver fair, effective and proportionate public protection while Lisa is on maternity leave.”

Annual FODO DIT lecture discusses future of Irish optics.

November 2016

FODO on IrelandFODO Ireland staff met this week with optical students from the Dublin Institute of Technology to discuss the role they will play in the future of Irish optics

Students from the optometry and dispensing optics courses at DIT met with FODO Ireland staff Ann Blackmore and Daniel Carry and Executive Council member Peter McGrath this week to learn about the ongoing changes to the community optical sector in Ireland and the opportunities it presents for those just beginning their careers.

FODO’s Head of Policy and Strategy, Ann Blackmore, discussed with students the role FODO Ireland plays supporting members and our work with partners across health and social care.


Ann said: “Significant changes are taking place in community eye health in Ireland and it is important to give optical students a snapshot of where we stand now and how things might change over the coming years. Alongside the move to CORU and the much anticipated outcome of the Primary Eyecare Services Review, there is a much broader context around new community-based models of care and the role technological disruption will play.”

The annual lecture finished with a focus on the Foresight Project, an initiative looking at how advances in consumer and optical technology will bring waves of innovation and change to community healthcare.

“The Foresight Project looks at technological disruption from a UK perspective but of course it has significant implications for eyecare professionals across Ireland, and indeed Europe,” continued Ann. “It will be important to embrace these changes and opportunities, not shy away from the challenge, a message our young audience of digital natives were fully supportive of.”

The lecture, which drew a packed audience from the entire student cohort, was followed by a question and answer session and special breakaway session with final year students.

GOC News from yesterday's GOC Council Meeting.

November 2016
Education Strategic Review

Council agreed a call for evidence which the GOC will publish in December to kick off its Education Strategic Review.
The call for evidence asks stakeholders what core skills and knowledge optometrists and dispensing opticians will need in the future, particularly in light of the advance of technological change in the optical sector.

It also asks for views on the content of education programmes and on the GOC’s own role in quality assurance. It also covers the assessment of students and what barriers there might be to the GOC improving the system of optical education.

Alistair Bridge, GOC Director of Strategy, said: “With the rate of technological change in the sector and the increasing opportunities for registrants to deliver enhanced services, now is the time for us to carry out a fundamental review of optical education to enable registrants to meet the needs of patients in the future.

“This is an important project and we’ll only get it right if we have wide engagement across the sector. This call for evidence will give all interested parties – including patients, registrants and other optical professionals, employers, commissioners, professional bodies and of course education institutions – the chance to have their say on how optical education ought to look.”

The GOC plans to publish the call for evidence in December 2016. It will run for 12 weeks until March 2017.

Draft Strategic Plan

Council published its draft Strategic Plan for the period 2017-20.

The GOC will now consult with its stakeholders between now and January. The GOC’s three draft priorities are:

• the learning and development of optical professionals

• a targeted approach to regulation

• organisational transformation

The plan will shape the GOC’s strategic direction from 1 April 2017 to 31 March 2020. The GOC will publish the draft plan for consultation on 21 November 2016 with a closing date of 23 January 2016.

Duty of candour guidance

Council agreed new registrant guidance on the duty of candour following a period of consultation with stakeholders.

All healthcare professionals have a professional duty of candour – this is a professional responsibility to be open, honest and transparent with patients when things go wrong. The GOC’s standards reflect this duty.

The guidance sets out how to meet the GOC’s standard on the professional duty of candour. It does not create new requirements or give legal advice.

The GOC refined the document after consultation with stakeholders including patients and the public, registrants, professional bodies, employers and insurers. It will be available on the GOC website in the coming weeks.

Registrant survey

Council heard the top-line results from the GOC’s recent registrants’ survey. Over 4,000 GOC registrants responded to the survey, carried out by the independent research agency Enventure.

The GOC will release the full survey results shortly and will also explain how it will act on the findings. The key findings include:

• registrants have strongly backed the provision of enhanced optical services in the community;

• the majority of respondents have considered getting extra qualifications to take on more enhanced services work in the future;

• nearly half of all registrants had at some point in their career felt pressure to meet commercial standards at the expense of patient care;

• almost half of all registrants would not feel comfortable raising a concern with the GOC;

• the vast majority of registrants think their role will change significantly in the next five years; and

• registrants have strongly backed the GOC’s new standards as being fair, and enabling them to develop their roles for the benefit of patients.

The GOC will release the full report of the survey, along with comment on its findings, in three volumes over the coming weeks:

• Volume 1: the future of the optical professions

• Volume 2: challenges in the work place

• Volume 3: the GOC’s role and regulatory performance

The GOC has used the findings of the survey in developing its draft strategic plan.

Stakeholder perception survey

Council heard the results of a stakeholder perceptions survey carried out by independent research agency Populus.

Stakeholders identified disruptive technological change as one of the biggest challenges for the sector, alongside the changing roles of optometrists and the need to consider their education accordingly.

The survey, which took the form of 30 semi-structured interviews with senior people in key stakeholder bodies, showed that stakeholders generally regarded the GOC in a positive light.

The GOC has used the findings in developing its draft strategic plan. It can be found on the GOC website at

Registration fees

Council agreed a registration fee of £330 for the coming year for optometrists, dispensing opticians and optical businesses. This represents a £10 (3.1 per cent) increase.

To encourage prompt payment, registrants will need to pay the £330 fee by 15 March 2017. If they pay after this date, but before the final deadline of 31 March 2017, the fee will be £350.

Council also discussed longer-term fee planning and believe that any future fee increases should be moderate.

The GOC has also increased its student registration fee from £25 to £30 and has introduced initial registration fees to reflect the costs to the GOC of verifying qualifications and other supporting documents.

The GOC’s registration fees rules are available on its website at

Other news

Council agreed to spend additional time reviewing consultation feedback on consent guidance and to seek clinical input into the revised guidance.

Council agreed a revised GOC corporate complaints policy.

David Hewlett representing the ECV addresses the European Parliament MEPs in a speech entitled “Preventing sight loss in an ageing population”

November 2016

Here is a summary of his speech.

David Hewlett ECVHe thanked Marian Harkin and MEP Becker for co-hosting a Parliamentary event to raise the profile of eye health issues with MEPs and others who are in a position to do something about them.

The human population is ageing. This is a world- wide phenomenon and one which – together with access to resources and climate change – are the global challenges facing us in this 21st Century.

However long life is a new luxury – especially for the majority of us. In the 19th Century life expectancy was 40 years or less. Go to any industrial town in Europe today and you will see lines of mouldering gravestones recording the deaths of working men under age 50 - and these are only from the 1950s, 60s and 70s!

Hewlett produced the following stats to the audience:

People aged 60+ in Europe
• 19.8% increase between 2000 and 2015
• 23.1% increase between 2015 and 2030
People aged 80+
• 63% increase between 2000 and 2015
• 33.2% increase between 2015 and 2030


In Europe there are currently 3 working people to every 1 retired person - by 2050 this will more than halve to 1.5:1. Let’s hope that many of us will be among those older ones. But living longer is only worthwhile if one can still enjoy life, for which vision plays an essential role.

So what are we going to do about these challenges?

Preventing Avoidable Sight loss

Clearly promoting independent living and healthy and active ageing are key. This means we have to prevent avoidable visual impairment from as early as possible and never stop doing so.

In the West, we continue to spend significant amounts of funds on extending length of life – often for only a small period – but much less on those factors which affect the quality of life, for example on the lifelong prevention of avoidable vision impairment.
This seems crazy. As we age, it is quality of life that becomes the all-important factor.

Hewlett explained how the ECV paper calls for three things;

For everyone to have regular sight tests and for other health professionals eg GPs to raise the issue of protecting sight with patients at routine consultations
For Member States to ensure that eye care is available to everyone – irrespective including those with low, or no incomes.
(For instance there are over 4m homeless people in Europe; they have 10% more longstanding eye problems than the general population and yet are often unable to access care) Source: Feantsa and VCHP

For parity of funding for research into those factors which prevent or ameliorate long-term conditions - particularly eye health and sensory function - which are so crucial to quality of life as we all live longer.

In conclusion the meeting was told, “As Europeans, we need to extend both the quantity but also the quality of life - for all citizens - and at the same rates. As professional groups we also need to work with other organisations with similar goals such as ageing and diabetes.”

Latest College of Optometrists Fellowships recognise outstanding contributions to the profession.

November 2016

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

The two new College Life Fellows are:

New College fellowshipsProfessor Martin Rubinstein FCOptom, Honorary Consultant Lecturer, University of Nottingham.

Professor Martin Rubinstein has been elected to Life Fellowship in recognition of his extensive contribution to the education and training of optometrists and ophthalmologists, his role in the development of hospital optometry, and his significant contributions to research. He is being recognized particularly for his clinical and research work in medical contact lens practice, corneal and ocular surface disease and the assessment and management of visual impairment.

Professor David Thomson FCOptom, Professor of Optometry, City University.

Professor David Thomson has been elected to Life Fellowship in recognition of his extensive contribution to the education and training of optometrists, specifically to many generations of City University students, and to research and technology development which has benefited the optometric profession as a whole.

Image to right: Mr Andrew Yorke HonFCOptom, Mr Gavin Galloway FCOptom, Professor David Thomson FCOptom, Dr Mary-Ann Sherratt MCOptom (President of the College of Optometrists), Professor Martin Rubinstein FCOptom, Professor John Sparrow HonFCOptom.

The two new Honorary Fellows of the College are:

Professor John Sparrow HonFCOptom, Consultant Ophthalmologist, Bristol Eye Hospital.

Professor John Sparrow has been elected to Honorary Fellowship in recognition of his high profile support for optometry within his role at Bristol Eye Hospital, in his work for the Royal College of Ophthalmologists and the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) and, in particular, the significant contributions he has made nationally and internationally on glaucoma and cataract care.

Mr Andrew Yorke HonFCOptom, Country Manager and Director at Topcon GB.

Andrew Yorke has been elected to Honorary Fellowship of the College of Optometrists in recognition of the significant contribution he has made to the development and use of new
technology, specifically by facilitating the commercial viability of ground-breaking equipment and in the delivery of education to encourage its use.

A Fellow by Portfolio award has been awarded to Mr Gavin Galloway FCOptom, PLM Optometrists.

He has been awarded in the following areas; Clinical Practice, Provision of visual or wider healthcare, Management of visual healthcare and Higher qualifications in vision science. Applicants can find out more about how to become a College Fellow by Portfolio on the College website.

Dr Mary-Ann Sherratt MCOptom, President of the College of Optometrists, said: “Fellowship is the College’s highest qualification and it is an acknowledgement of commitment to the profession, experience and accomplishments. It was an absolute privilege to present these awards and acknowledge the hard work, commitment and exceptional contribution these individuals have made to advance optometry and eye care.”

The awards were presented at the annual Diploma Ceremony on Tuesday 8 November 2016 in Central London, where the College also celebrated the achievements of its members through the award of Higher Diplomas and Research Excellence Awards, and welcoming newly qualified optometrists to the profession.

New advice helps patients manage eye conditions.

November 2016

Research reveals that 85% of 18-24 year-olds are unaware of the UK’s leading cause of blindness, age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and more than half have never heard of glaucoma, one of the most common sight-threatening eye diseases.

With low levels of awareness around eye health, patients may not identify symptoms associated with poor eye health – resulting in many conditions going undiagnosed and untreated.

In response, the Association of Optometrists (AOP) is launching new information leaflets designed to help patients recognise and treat eye conditions.

The leaflets form part of the AOP’s patient resources – a suite of more than 10 leaflets and videos on eye health including sight-threatening conditions such as AMD and glaucoma.

Geoff Roberson, AOP Professional Adviser, said: “Sight is the sense that people fear losing the most yet many do not realise they are putting their sight at risk simply because they are not recognising key symptoms or having regular sight tests. It’s not uncommon, for example, that a patient waits a significant amount of time before they identify dry eye as an issue and seek treatment – while it’s not sight-threatening it can cause a lot of unnecessary discomfort if left untreated.

Mr Roberson continued: “For some conditions there are much higher risks attached to not getting that vital early diagnosis. For glaucoma patients the consequences of not beginning treatment as early as possible can be devastating. We hope that these new resources will help patients to understand their condition and how to manage it day to day”.

New additions include information on common eye complaints such as dry eye, blepharitis and meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD). They aim to inform the patient about their eye condition, provide the best advice for managing symptoms and offer tips on how to care for their eyes. They are also a helpful take-away for patients that have been recently diagnosed with an eye condition by their optometrist.

GOC recruiting four new Council members.

November 2016

The General Optical Council (GOC) has announced today that it is recruiting four new members to its Council – two registrants and two lay members.

The successful appointees are expected to take up their posts on 1 April 2017.

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

GOC Chair Gareth Hadley said: “There are plenty of exciting and interesting issues on the horizon that Council members will have the opportunity to be fully involved with. For example, we will soon be launching a strategic review of the education that registrants receive. This is particularly important as enhanced services become more prevalent, with the growing influence of technology and an ageing population requiring optical professionals to take a bigger role in primary care.
This is an opportunity to influence the optical professions in the interests of the public and I hope we receive many applications from people who wish to shape the future of the optical sector.”

The two registrant members will be GOC-registered as optometrists or dispensing opticians. The two lay members may have relevant experience for the role from their work, education, voluntary activities, general interests, or from using optical services.

The successful candidates will replace Paul Carroll, Liam Kite, Fiona Peel and Peter Douglas, whose terms finish on 31 March 2017.

The closing date for applications is 28 November 2016.

A full information pack, details of how to apply and the job advert are on the GOC website here

Optical Confederation urges optical practices to promote Road Safety Week.

October 2016

Plans for Road Safety Week get underway today as the Optical Confederation (OC) work with charity Brake to launch a campaign highlighting the importance of sight tests for safe driving.

With an estimated 2,900 road casualties caused by poor vision every year the optical community nationwide is being urged to support the campaign.

Practitioners and manufacturers across the sector can support by displaying the poster in their practices ahead of the awareness week – which takes place 21 – 27 November 2016 – and by sharing digital content throughout the week.

The OC and Brake poster, which couples sight test with the common driving instruction ‘Mirror, signal, manoeuvre’, highlights that good eyesight is a vital part of driving and safety on the road.
Road Safety Week is the UK's biggest road safety event, coordinated annually by Brake and involving thousands of schools, organisations and communities each year.

Activities throughout the week include workshops and demonstrations on road safety as well as community events.

This year's theme is ‘Make the Brake Pledge’ focusing on six simple elements to make our roads safer – with sharp vision as one of the vital checks for drivers.

Outgoing chairman of the OC, Chris Hunt, said: “The Optical Confederation has long felt that the relationship between road safety and vision needs to have greater visibility within the public and that is why we are fully committed to driving up awareness for Road Safety Week in 2016.

“The optical community is one that fully understands the importance of having properly assessed vision as a pre-requisite for driving on our roads. Good sight affects all aspects of driving, including crucially reaction and braking times, which in turn has safety implications not only for the driver themselves but for passengers and others on the road. We are therefore calling on all practitioners and manufacturers to enthusiastically get behind the promotion of this very important issue."

Mike Carr, Public Affairs Advisor at Brake said: “We fully appreciate the crucial role of the optical community in achieving the real improvement in road safety we are fighting for. Commitment to regular eye checks should be one major step towards safer driving that we know will ultimately save lives”.

Road Safety Week was founded by Brake in 1997 as an annual event to raise awareness about road safety and promote steps that everyone can take to stop needless deaths and injuries year-round.

PCSE - Frequently Asked Questions now posted by LOCSU.

October 2016

A new, dedicated page has been published on the LOCSU website listing Frequently Asked Questions about the Primary Care Support England (PCSE) service. The new page can be accessed via this link:

As you will be aware NHS England has acknowledged and apologised for serious shortcomings with the delivery of the services, operated by Capita, and a stabilisation plan has been put in place.

In view of this, LOCSU has published a new FAQ section on the website, which collates all the information and contact points for the service in one place.

Primary care support services relevant to opticians and optometrists include: administrating monthly payments of GOS claims; processing Performer List applications and GOS contract applications; deducting Local Optical Committee (LOC) levies; supply of GOS forms; and processing Continuing Education and Training (CET) payments.

Children’s eye health on the agenda.

October 2016

Specsavers has launched National Children’s Eye Health month (24 October to 23 November) to remind parents of the importance of regular eye tests for their children.

at Childrens Eye Health The awareness month is backed up by a major investment in professional development with the introduction of a BTEC level 6 Children’s Eyecare qualification open to all optical professionals.

Research commissioned jointly with the Royal National Institute of Blind People has revealed that, despite children’s eye tests being free with an NHS voucher, almost two in five parents (38%) say their child have not had one in the past two years. Even more worryingly, 27% of parents say they don’t think that their child has ever had an eye test.

The top three reasons that parents gave for not taking their child for an eye test were, ‘I don’t think there is anything wrong with their eyes’ (48%), ‘I think they are too young’ (25%) and ‘I have been told previously that they don’t need to wear glasses’ (11%).

The results come from a YouGov poll for the State of the Nation Eye Health 2016 report, which included 2,000 parents of children aged three to 16.

National Children’s Eye Health month will include adverts in national press and magazines and posters in store with the message ‘They see. They do. 80% of your child’s learning is visual.’

Dr Nigel Best, Specsavers clinical spokesperson and a joint venture partner in Darlington, says: ‘Sight plays a vital part in 80% of children’s development of language, social and cognitive skills. Visual impairment in children creates unique challenges to learning and development, which can have a profound impact on their education and wellbeing.

‘Early detection of any issue is crucial. Common eye health conditions in children (such as amblyopia or lazy eye) can be easily corrected with early intervention. Unusual signs or eye symptoms can lead to a referral for more in depth analysis.’

To promote the highest standards of eyecare for children in its stores, Specsavers has introduced the BTEC level 6 Children’s Eyecare qualification. More than a thousand Specsavers optometrists, contact lens opticians and dispensing opticians are already enrolled on the course and Specsavers has waived all course fees to encourage more take up.

The topics for online completion include: professional conduct, dispensing, contact lenses, binocular vision and pathology.

In addition, stores are contacting local schools to offer the free SchoolScreener EZ software, which is suitable for children aged four to 18 and includes a colour vision test. Created by Thomson Screening, it has been designed to be operated by teachers or classroom assistants and is being used by more than 1,700 UK schools. Schools can also register to receive their free kit at

Finally, in support of National Children’s Eye Health month, participating Specsavers stores nationwide will be fundraising for local children’s eye hospitals and charity partner RNIB.

The Association of Optometrists launches new membership grade to support members through parental leave.

October 2016

The Association of Optometrists (AOP) announces its new unique Parental Leave membership grade for members on maternity, paternity or adoption leave.

The new grade is designed to support members at a time in their life when it’s needed most – helping them to overcome the challenges often faced following parental leave and supporting them in their return to work.

Available from 1 January 2017, the new Parental Leave grade allows members to benefit from up to 12 months membership for free*.

Chief Executive of the AOP, Henrietta Alderman, said: “The AOP is delighted to launch this new grade which aims to help members as they go through an important personal change in their lives. It is in tune with our ethos to make sure members are fully supported at every stage of their career. Many people can find parental leave an expensive time, with more pressures on finances coupled with a drop in salary, and we want to take the pressure off through our payment freeze.”

Ms Alderman continued by saying: “Allowing members on parental leave to access our benefits such as education and training can help make the return to work a less daunting prospect. It is vital that the mechanisms are in place to help members return confidently and ensure that talent in the sector is retained."

Those opting for the grade will have access to the range of AOP member benefits including:

• Insurance cover for their previous period of membership and up to 10 keeping in touch days whilst on parental leave

• Access to AOP’s in-house legal, clinical and regulatory expertise including the employment law team

• World class CET in print, online and at free or discounted events across the country to keep knowledge up to date whilst on leave

• Regular news and features via our award winning monthly journal, Optometry Today

• A chance to continue to have their say on the big issues affecting the profession

While available to all members who have been a member of the AOP for a minimum 12 month period, the new package responds to the needs of AOP’s female demographic – as an increasing number of women choose optometry as a career. Members starting a family will benefit from easy access to learning opportunities and up-to-date industry knowledge, professional advice as well as that important touch-point to the profession for the duration of their leave.

College of Optometrists calls for applications for elected positions on its Council.

October 2016

The College of Optometrists is calling for nominations for members to join its Council and represent members in its East Midlands, London, North East, North West, Scotland, South East, South West, Wales, West Midlands and Yorkshire and Humber regions.

The College Council sets the strategic and professional direction of the College, ensuring that it is informed by the views of a representative cross-section of membership. It also elects the Board of Trustees, and has legal and fiduciary responsibility for the College’s activities. As well as bringing members’ views directly to the College, Council members also have an ambassadorial role and help represent the College, both nationally and within their region.

Dr Mary-Ann Sherratt, President of the College of Optometrists, said: “I would like to encourage all those interested in joining Council to submit their nomination. This is an important time for the profession and Council members can help shape it, and the College’s future direction, by representing member’s views and helping to shape the College’s next three- year strategy.”

Priya Jayaprakash, a new College Council member representing the London region said: “I have been representing the London region on the College Council since March of this year and have really enjoyed being an ambassador for the College. As well as knowing that I am inputting into the profession on a national level, and speaking for the profession, I really value participating in local meetings and engaging with members in my region to make sure their views are shared.”

The new Council members will begin their term in March 2017, following the College’s AGM hosted at its annual conference, Optometry Tomorrow. Members sit on Council for a term of three years but, subject to re-election, may serve up to four terms of three years consecutively.

Nomination forms should be completed online here and more information about the College’s governance structure is available on the College’s website. All applications must be supported by two Members or Fellows of the College who live or work in the region for which they are applying.

The closing date for receipt of completed nominations is Friday 4 November 2016 at 5pm and online voting for members will open in November.

FODO Hosts Professional Bodies Digital Leadership Summit

October 2016

Tickets available for roundtable summit examining the purpose of professional bodies in the ‘Post-digital Age’

The Federation of Opticians will host the meeting this November at 199 Gloucester Terrace, welcoming digital leaders and representatives from major UK membership organisations to discuss what the future holds for professional representative bodies in an age of technological disruption.

Run by the business agency Atmosphere, the breakfast session will examine how these bodies can adapt to a proliferation of new digital technologies by becoming ‘more human’ rather than ‘more digital’. Participants will discuss how, in an immersive tech world full of low-cost digital tools, members are looking for more relevant relationships with their professional organisations that are focused on driving meaningful change.

Optical Confederation member and FODO and NCHA chief executive, David Hewlett said: “Moving with the times and indeed being ahead of them is something we pride ourselves on. The digital revolution is here to stay and moving at a pace that makes Moore’s Law seem an understatement. It will affect all our lives as the Foresight Project Report and the recent College seminar have shown. It is a pleasure therefore to host an Atmosphere event and learn from other sectors. If successful we will consider approaching Atmosphere to run a session for our members”.

Irish Government announces Treatment Benefit Scheme.

October 2016

FODO IrelandThe Federation of Ophthalmic and Dispensing Opticians (FODO) Ireland warmly welcomed announcements about the Treatment Benefit Scheme in yesterday’s Budget, in particular the restoration of free spectacle provision or contribution towards spectacles and the inclusion of self-employed workers, for the first time, into the Scheme.

Ann Blackmore Ann Blackmore, Director of Policy and Strategy at FODO Ireland, said “FODO Ireland is delighted that the Minister has responded positively to our calls for the restoration of optical benefits and for bringing self-employed workers into the Treatment Benefit Scheme. This is a very positive move which will enable proper access to sight testing and treatments for working people.”

The Minister for Social Protection, Leo Varadkar TD, in announcing the changes to the Scheme yesterday said that the ‘expansion of the Scheme means that the range of optical treatments will benefit up to 2.5 million people’.

Since 2010, beneficiaries of the Scheme who received a sight test were not entitled to receive free glasses or optical vouchers as a result of cuts made in the 2009 Budget. FODO Ireland has campaigned to persuade the Government of the importance of restoring the provision for dispensing spectacles or contribution towards spectaclesto ensure that patients would receive the help they needed to correct any problems with their sight. Expanding the benefits of the Scheme to the self-employed was also a key component of the FODO Ireland pre-Budget submission.

Under the terms of the restoration, patients who are tested and who require glasses can be provided with free glasses or a contribution (up to €42) towards the cost of glasses depending on their choice. The provisions for dispensing spectacles or contribution towards spectacles will take effect from October 2017.From March of next year, self-employed people, including farmers, who make category S PRSI payments, will be able to avail of the same benefits as all other beneficiaries of the scheme.

European Coalition for Vision backs Marrakesh Treaty.

October 2016

The European Coalition for Vision (ECV) has warmly endorsed the Marrakesh Treaty on accessible reading materials and congratulated the World Blind Union and World Intellectual Property Organization on their campaign to get all countries to ratify the treaty.

The Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired, or Otherwise Print Disabled received the support of 20 countries, enabling it to be adopted on 30 September 2016. However the European Union and individual member states are still seeking to resolve whether the EU can ratify the treaty on behalf of all member states or whether each member state needs to ratify it separately.

Speaking for the Coalition, ECV Chair David Hewlett said: “Books open windows on the world for everyone, so this is an issue of equality and fairness. We urge our European governments to ratify the treaty with the minimum of delay. We are delighted to highlight and support the Treaty as the ECV, along with other champions for eye health and equality around the world, promotes World Sight Day this Thursday, 13 October.”

Bob Chappell, ECV member for the European Council for Optometry and Optics (ECOO) and Chair of the ECV’s Healthy and Active Ageing work-stream, said: “We applaud the hard work of the WBU and WIPO to facilitate access to published works for people who are blind, visually impaired, or otherwise unable to read printed materials. This is key to independence and healthy and active ageing: Europe should be at the forefront of those taking action.”

The Optical Confederation has announced that Chris Hunt will step down as Chairman when he completes his two year term of office on 23 October.

October 2016

Chris Hunt
Chris Hunt, pictured above, said “I have greatly enjoyed my role as Chairman of the Optical Confederation and have gained a real insight into the ability of the member organisations to work together for the benefit of the sector and the patients we serve. However, I now feel it is the right time to return to my wider interests in optics and take up other opportunities which I have put on hold whist chairing the OC. I will maintain a close interest in the work of the OC and will continue to advocate the merits of a single voice for optics.”

Tony Garrett, speaking for the Optical Confederation, said “We are all extremely grateful to Chris for all he has done on our behalf and the sector as a whole, and will miss him. His knowledge, passion and good humour have been a tremendous asset and his leadership has been outstanding. We wish him well in his future endeavours”.

The Confederation will not be making a new appointment for the time being.

Lynda Oliver speaking on behalf of the OC chairs said “It is now time for us to review all aspects of the work of the Confederation and to consider our plans on how to move forward in our development.

The Chair will rotate between the member bodies whilst this process takes place”

College of Optometrists hosts roundtable to prepare the professions for future challenges.

October 2016

‘Optical Professions: what does the future hold?’ event held in London this week

The College of Optometrists has held a roundtable meeting involving key sector organisations to prepare the profession for future developments, as highlighted in the recent Foresight and Optical Workforce Survey (OWS) reports.

Event participants included representatives from organisations involved in each report as well as others who will have a significant part to play in the future of the profession.

The event will be followed up by a report with recommendations in the coming months.

The Foresight and OWS reports highlight that technology advances, the ageing population, the changing demographics of the professions, and ongoing capacity issues will have an immutable impact on the delivery of eye health services over the coming years.

At the meeting, the College of Optometrists asked participants to address three crucial questions in relation to significant areas of potential change that key players in the sector identified in advance: What will change, what needs to change, what can the sector do about it?

The three broad themes identified were:
• technology
• regulation, training, scope of practice
• changing demographics of the profession

Participants discussed potential solutions and strategies to navigate the changes through a series of facilitated workshops and open discussion.

Mike Bowen, College of Optometrists Director of Research said; "The sector is fortunate to have these key pieces of intelligence. It is vital to ensure that they are used to inform actions that allow the optical professions to shape themselves to deliver effective services in the future. I think the sector needs to be proactive in turning challenges identified into opportunities. This needs to happen, both for professionals working in the sector and for the advancement of improved eye health provision and this meeting was an excellent starting point.”

Alan Tinger, Chair of LOCSU and Chair of the Foresight Project said; “I’m delighted that the sector is coming together in such a collaborative way to address future challenges following on from publication of the Foresight Report and of the Optical Workforce Survey. As trusted professions, we must be adaptable and tackle the changing landscape of optics head on. If we don’t, others certainly will - global technological advances will see to that.”


October 2016

The American Optometric Foundation (AOF) would like to announce the recipients of the 2016 Vincent Salierno Scholarships. First, second, third, and fourth year students pursuing a Doctorate of Optometry degree are nominated by his/her institution for this scholarship. The students must be enrolled in a full-time course of study and must have a 3.0 (“B”) average for all course work taken thus far in optometry school.

The Vincent Salierno Scholarship is eligible for automatic renewal provided that the recipient maintains a 3.0 cumulative grade point average and is enrolled in a full-time course of study leading to a Doctorate of Optometry degree. Continued eligibility shall be determined annually.

The 2016 Vincent Salierno Scholarship recipients are:

Sarah L. Vrotsos Southern College of Optometry
Stephanie N. Uchida Northeastern State University Oklahoma College of Optometry
Y Dau Nhu Phung Illinois College of Optometry
Monica Udaykumar Pennsylvania College of Optometry at Salus University
Keller Hopkins University of Missouri - St. Louis College of Optometry

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

npower business
Primary Health Net