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Optometry Fees Increased from April 1st
The Department of Health and Social Care has announced that it will increase GOS sight test fees by 1.9% from April 2021. The GOS CET allowances and pre-registration supervision grants will also rise by the same percentage. The fees for GOS sight tests in England were last increased in April 2015 by 1% and since then, optometry have endured five consecutive years with no fee increase, despite costs having continued to rise.

In response, Paul Carroll, OFNC Chair, said: “The 1.9% increase, welcome though it is, does not fully address the erosion of GOS fees by inflation in recent years.” “After 5 years without any increase to reflect the rising costs of care, a 1.9% increase in GOS fees now will understandably disappoint a loyal and hard-working sector, which has gone the extra mile in keeping eye care services running over the past year when hospital care was often just not available. Nevertheless, we take it as a signal that the Government and NHS England have at last understood the value of primary eye care and the need to move towards fairer treatment of GOS contractors in the future.” “We hope this is the first small step on a journey to a properly funded national sight-testing infrastructure to help meet growing eye health need, focus on prevention and deliver more care outside hospital closer to home.”  1st April 2021

 
Patient Signature Update
The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care has approved an extension to an existing temporary measure in England to help limit the transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19) by suspending the need for patients to sign prescription, dental and ophthalmic forms. The suspension was initially for a period of 5 months up to 31 March 2021 and is now extended for a further 3 months until 30 June 2021. This will be kept under review and may be extended.  1st April 2021

Local Optometrist awarded MBE in New Year Honours

Ruth with a patient

Local Optometrist Ruth Perrott has been recognised in the 2021 New Year Honours list and has been awarded the MBE. Ruth, who has practices in York and Castleford was named in the Overseas and International List for her services to people living with sight impairment in Africa. Her first seven trips to Africa were with Vision Aid Overseas but decided to continue the spectacles service alone when VAO stopped the direct service clinics and went on to make 16 trips in total to various parts of the continent.

Speaking about the award, Ruth said "It feels an honour and a privilege to have this work recognised. Demand is high and job satisfaction drives me on. Many thousands of people have had their quality of life restored and can continue to work and support a family thanks to their new spectacles". Spectacle recycling continues to this day. With the valuable assistance of Rotary York Ainsty every pair is washed, serviced, focimetered, and labelled and Ruth has been able to support clinics in Kenya, Yemen, Sri Lanka and Fiji Islands where there is sufficient expertise to handle the distribution.


CHEC & Newmedica Post Cataract Procedures Finalised
New providers Community Eye Health and Newmedica have finalised their post cataract reporting procedures. CHEC will require the practice to log into a specific website address and each practice has recently been emailed a set of instructions on how to proceed when they get there. If you would like another copy please click here.

In the short term, Newmedica will be using a Microsoft Word based form which should be completed and emailed to the companies NHS Mail address at newmedica.wakefield@nhs.net. There are some Optometrists who prefer to complete such forms by hand and so Newmedia are happy to receive scanned versions of these but in PDF format. You can download the form by clicking here or going to their providers section of this website.

Claims for the post operative payments from both companies should be made via the usual process for all cataract providers from Wakefield CCG.  8th Dec 2020


 
Flashes & Floaters Audit Underway
All practices by now should have received details about a Flashes & Floaters audit that is being carried out by Wakefield LOC on behalf of the Mid Yorkshire Hospital Trust. With the aim of improving the referral process, Wakefield LOC have been approached by Ms Shafi, Consultant Ophthalmologist at the Trust, to carry out a 3 month long audit of the management of patients presenting to an optometry practice with symptoms of flashes and floaters.

The main aims of this exercise will be to
    1)  identify numbers and patterns
    2)  explore the reasons for referrals and
    3)  identify any training needs that might be needed

It should take less than a minute to complete for each patient with the audit lasting until the end of May. At the end of this period, practices should return all completed forms to the LOC at the address provided on the introductory letter so that the information can be collated. Practices can either photocopy extra audit sheets from the ones provided or print additional ones by downloading the document from the downloads section of this website. If you have any questions please do get in touch straight away. The LOC and Mid Yorkshire Trust really appreciate your cooperation with this which should be of benefit to the Hospital Eye Service, optometry practices and most importantly, patients.
 30th Oct 2020
  

Bradford students urgently need your help with equipment
Professor Brendan Barrett, who is Professor of Visual Development at Bradford University, is appealing to local practices for functioning, but unused retinoscopes or ophthalmoscopes. In these unprecedented times, there are many challenges facing optometry students, one of which is that they are spending much more time off-campus. His appeal for equipment is to allow students the opportunitity to practise basic optometric techniques at home. That way, they can gain valuable practise time on techniques they have been introduced to in our labs, and in case of a stricter lockdown, they will be still able to make progress, guided by us online. We have model eyes and mini-trial case sets which we can loan to our students to assist them in learning ret. However, we are short of both rets and ophthalmoscopes. If you have equipment of this nature that you could spare, please contact: Brendan Barrett, at b.t.barrett@bradford.ac.uk
 30th Oct 2020
  

CHEC issue COVID Leaflets
Community Health and Eye Care have produced two versions of a COVID reassurance letter that has a simple design so that practices can print them out and give them to patients where appropriate. These are available to download from the CHEC area of the 'Provider Information' section in the menu.  9th Feb 2021

 
Optical Bodies Issue COVID Guidance

During this latest phase of COVID restrictions the College of Optometrists and the GOC have advised that Optometrists should continue to open as normal but to follow their Amber guidance. This prioritises emergency, urgent and essential care on a needs and symptoms-led basis. It states that routine appointments should only be provided if capacity permits, and if it is in the patients’ best interests.' The full College document can be read by clicking here. and the GOC document by clicking here.

Amber Phase guidance prioritises emergency/urgent and essential care on a needs- and symptoms-led basis, but still allows for patients to have an eyesight test if, after undertaking phone triage, the optometrist believes it will be beneficial, that is does not put the patient at risk and that they have the capacity to provide it. Optometrists should encourage vulnerable patients to postpone their routine sight tests to after the lockdown if they are asymptomatic.  9th Jan 2021


To work or not to work?
It can happen to any of us. Out of the blue, we feel a bit warmer than usual and you get an annoying little cough that come to think of it has been there a couple of days. You make yourself a curry for dinner and when it just doesn't taste like normal, the penny drops. The need for a COVID test can of course be not because we feel unwell but because a family member or a work colleague has been forced to have a test or has tested positive.
Once the decision has been made to get a test, the questions begin. Do I have to isolate until my test results come back? My colleague has tested positive but I feel fine so can't I just go to work and see if I get symptoms? Making the right decision may have a big impact on your own health and those around you.

Public Health England has lots of useful guidance including two excellent flow charts to help you to do the right thing. So why not download them now and have them to hand just in case you're the one that needs them?

     Symptomatic Return To Work Guide
     Asymptomatic Return To Work Guide