COVID-19 UPDATES


During the Covid 19 pandemic we are working with LOCSU, Primary Eyecare Services Limited, all the London Local Optical Committees, NHS England and Clinical Commissioning Groups to implement the Covid Urgent and Emergency Service (CUES) for the benefit of the public delivered by optometrists in practice.

LATEST NEWS

COVID-19 GUIDANCE FOR PRIMARY EYE CARE SERVICES IN ENGLAND -13TH JULY 2021

The Chief Medical and Chief Scientific advisers have also stated that the pandemic is not over and they expect an extremely high prevalence of COVID infections until at least the end of August. For more information joint-statement-guidance-for-primary-eye-care-services-in-england-13th-july-2021


COVID-19 UPDATE – CONTINUE AMBER PHASE 

While the vaccination programme continues at pace across the UK, we expect to remain in the Amber Phase for the foreseeable future, as maintaining high standards of infection prevention and control procedures (IPC) to help protect practice staff and their patients, remains as important as ever. We will continue to work with all UK health authorities in anticipation of each nations planned easing of general COVID-19 restrictions, and will update members of any changes to the guidance. See here for more information (June 2021)


THE BENOLVELMENT FUND

The college of Optometrists and the association of Optometrists know there are practitioners who are still in need of support. But as well as the fall-out from Covid, there are the perennial problems associated with illness, disability, family upheaval or bereavement. If your life has been suddenly turned upside down or if circumstances have gradually got to the point where they are overwhelming or unmanageable, they want you to know that they are here to help

If you, or someone you know, genuinely needs help, please do contact the fund.

To make contact, email: admin@opticalbenfund.com or phone 01376 223800.

Website: www.opticalbenfund.com


NHS.NET EMAIL ADDRESSES

As more hospitals aim to turn off their fax machines, the LOC would like to encourage all practices to obtain an NHS.net email address to enable referrals to be sent securely.  The application process has been simplified due to COVID and this has been extended until end of June 2021.  There is also help in completing the DSPT for the nhs mail now available via the LOC.  The application form is available here.


SECOND COVID VACCINATION’S

A reminder for those still needing their second COVID 19 vaccination, further information can be found at:
https://mailchi.mp/fe7f56478db5/information-for-arranging-second-doses-of-covid-19-vaccine 


GOS4 COVID EASEMENT ENDED 1ST MAY 2021

In the light of recovering GOS1 numbers, NHS England plans to discontinue the Covid easement whereby providers can dispense spectacles without a sight test using a GOS4 form. The temporary arrangements, set out in OFNC FAQ 23, ended on 1st May. Therefore, contractors and optometrists should fully revert to using GOS1s and GOS3s as pre-Covid from 2nd May 2021.


COVID-19 EXEMPTION FOR PATIENT SIGNATURES EXTENDED

The DHSC has confirmed that the temporary measure whereby NHS GOS contractors state ‘COVID-19’ instead of requiring patient signatures on forms has now been extended until 30 June 2021.
This measure was originally implemented as a COVID infection prevention control measure by removing the need for patients to handle pens in optical practices.


OFNC STATEMENT CONFIRMS GOS SIGHT TEST FEES INCREASE

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has said 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%. For more information see OFNC statement on GOS fees 2021-22 final 210321 (002)GOS fees 2020 21 letter.


ONFC UPDATE ON PRACTICE FUNDING 

NHS England have advised no further financial support will be made available to practices at present. For more information see  OFNC March 2021 update on lockdown funding 05.03.21

LATERAL FLOW TESTS

NHS England are keen to encourage all patient facing staff to undertake lateral flow tests on a regular basis to help reduce the spread of infection. (22/01/2021)

Please also remind your staff that reporting test results (positive, negative or void) from lateral flow testing is a statutory requirement.

Lateral flow tests can be ordered here:
https://pcse.england.nhs.uk/news/2020/december/ordering-your-covid-19-lateral-flow-antigen-self-testing-kits/ 

For reporting test results use this link: https://www.gov.uk/report-covid19-result


VACCINATION PROGRAMME LAUNCH

Health and social care staff in the boroughs of NW London: Westminster, Kensington & Chelsea, Hammersmith & Fulham, Ealing, Hounslow, Brent, Harrow and Hillingdon are being prioritised for the roll out of the Covid-19 vaccine, and are now invited to book their vaccinations. For more information and to book see Vaccination Invitation Letter.(17/01/2021)

VACCINATIONS

UK practices will be offered vaccinations very soon, you may be contacted directly or via the LOC. More details about the vaccine can be found here. In the mean time please wait to be contacted by vaccination centres. (11/01/2021)


FREE COVID PPE SCHEME EXTENDED UNTIL JUNE 2021

The government is extending the provision of free COVID-19 PPE for all health, social care and public sector workers, until at least the end of June. This will ensure frontline and wider public service workers can continue to access rigorously tested and high-quality PPE. Primary care providers should continue to access COVID-19 PPE via DHSC PPE portal. The scheme will be reviewed in April 2021 to determine PPE provision beyond June 2021.


LOCKDOWN 3

The AOP have issued guidance on extended testing times and contact details of clinical teams. Further information can be found here. (06/01/2021)

New government guidance issued advises practices are to carry out urgent and non urgent services safely. nationallockdownguidance (05/01/2021)

College of Optometrist guidelines suggest the amber phase, prioritising emergency/urgent and essential on a needs and symptom -led basis. Further information can be found here.(05/01/2020)


VACCINE NEWS

Priority for the very first cohort of vaccinations will be those aged over 80 , nursing home residents and care staff. Cohort 2 includes front line secondary care staff. (Those treating positive cases ) and primary care frontline staff  working in GP’s , Dentists , Pharmacy and Optical practices.

Vaccinations are currently being delivered through either hospital sites or selected locations within PCN areas. The number of locations will expanded considerably and as and when the Oxford vaccine is approved which will allow for most GP surgeries , possible pharmacies and larger sites to deliver without the restrictions imposed due the fragile nature of the Pfizer vaccine. (30/12/2020)


CCG MERGER

It is  worth knowing that from April 2021 London will consist of five Integrated Care Systems (ICSs) The designation of NEL , NWL & NCL was announced on the 4th of December. More information can be found here. (16/12/2020)

The final phase of CCG mergers will  also be completed by the 1st of April 2021 and there will be five CCGs  aligned to the five ICSs . More information can be found here.(16/12/2020)

COVID TIERING GUIDELINES

Current guidelines and FAQs from the College of Optometrist of Optometrist can be found here. (27/11/2020)

For more information on regional tiering in the UK see TIERING ALLOCATIONS_


#LookingAfterYouToo: Coaching support for primary care staff

The NHS wants to ensure staff feel supported to maintain psychological wellbeing and resilience during this time by having access to individually tailored coaching support. It’s a space for staff to offload the demands of whatever they are experiencing and be supported in developing practical strategies for dealing with this, including:

  • process experiences
  • develop coping skills
  • deal with difficult conversations

It is available 7 days a week: 8:00am – 10:00pm Monday to Friday and 10:00am – 6:00pm Saturday and Sunday and slots can be pre-booked with experienced coaches at a convenient time. Coaching sessions will continue until at least March 2021.

More information on this initiative can be found at https://people.nhs.uk/lookingafteryoutoo/


FUNDING FOR PRACTICES

OFNC have released a statement on COVID-19 funding for optical practices in England OFNC Update on COVID FUNDING  31/07/20
 OFNC update on funding 20.07.20

NHSE have now given the go ahead for optical practices to reopen and begin resumption of provision of GOS services under risk management. This now means resumption of both private and NHS eye examinations.  C0601_Reopening of optical services letter 17.06.20

BEFORE commencing routine GOS care, practices need to declare that they are following  Standard Operating Procedures (SOP)  C0601_COVID19_OPTICAL_SOP v1 17/06/2020

Statement highlighting key areas which need to be addressed before practices re-open can be found in; IMPORTANT UPDATE – NHSE Declarations 19/06/20


REOPENING OF PRACTICES

GOC have released a statement on re-opening optical practices during COVID-19 emergency GOC Statement – reopening practices 12/06/2020

Please help get this worthwhile service up and running by recording your activity as described this Communication from LOCS. 28/05/20.

Recent updates from LOCSU discussions can be found here. 15/06/2020

NHSE announced all dental practices to commence opening from 8th June. Implications for optical services can be found on OFNC statement on essential care 27.05.20

Recent statement released by the ONFC on meeting essential eye care needs during the pandemic can be found on the OFNC statement on essential care 27.05.20

The ONFC have released a recent statement on Routine Eye Exams UK 13/05/2020

Updated OFNC guidance for optical practices in England OFNC 2nd April

OFNC guidance for optical practices in England can be found here. (01/04/20)

The OFNC has issued COVID-19 advice to all Optical Practices and Practitioners, which can be read here.

Specific advice on essential opening arrangements is also available here.

Latest changes to GOS vouchers, CET and Supervisor Grants can be found here 02/04/20

Please find attached an update with regards the provision of GOS Optometry GOS Update – Covid-19.

Joint professions have come together to address the lack of financial support for the Self-Employed, recent Graduates and Directors of Limited Companies,  Joint professions open letter to Chancellor 080420.

 

 

 

Guidance on coronavirus testing, including eligibility can be found  here. 08/06/20

The UK Government’s COVID-19 recovery strategy published and updated 12/05/2020

Important Information

Please note that ALL practitioners can now access PPE through LOCSU.
Kindly only order the quantity you need so that as many practices as possible can get access. PPE for Optical Practices Available Now 08/06/2020

Practices are now able to order and view latest updates on access to PPE equipment including FAQs  Update from Department of Health & Social Care_PPE 31/03/2020

Latest advice on Risk Stratification and Referral Guidance can be found in the   Guidance Letter 8th April2020

Further guidance by NHS on managing patients with urgent and sight threatening eye conditions can be found in Optom decision risk stratfication doc

Details on GOS funding for practices which remain open can be found on NHSE Confirmation of Financial Support 29/04/2020

NHS England have produced The Directory- Ophthalmology Service Provision in London-21/04/2020. Practitioners are advised to check and direct ocular emergencies to relevant departments in their area.

General Government Coronavirus advice for clinicians is available at https://www.england.nhs.uk/coronavirus/

Social distancing is explained here.
Isolation notes are available here.
Please log on to the following link for UK GOV guidance on business closure here.
A poster with recommended PPE for primary, out patients and community care is available for practices Poster-Recommended PPE.

 

Other Sources of Current Guidance 

FODO have created a framework which aims to help members forward plan and respond to Covid-19 as the pandemic progresses, details can be found on PrimaryeyecareFramework 17/05/20 (V1)

The College of Optometrists have released an update on testing for Optometrist during COVID-19 available here. (07/05/20)

The College of Optometrists have produced a document to help optometrists understand how to adapt their working practices as we move into The Amber Phase 29/05/2020
 
The College of Optometrists are hosting an FAQ which can be found at;
 
 

The Royal College Of Ophthalmologist have released a statement on Reopening-and-redeveloping-ophthalmology-services-during-Covid-recovery-Interim-guidance13/05/2020

 
Royal College of Ophthalmologists about Viral Conjuntivitis and COVID-19
 
A poster from the college regarding essential and emergency eye care is available to download 24-March-2020-Essential-services-poster

It is advised that where possible remote consultations can be available to triage symptoms and prevent the need for patients to attend practices. Telephone consultation record sheet is available for phone/video consultations here.

New guidelines on personal protective equipment is available here.

 
 
The  GOC has issued a couple of important statements:
1) A joint  with the other healthcare regulators recognising that professionals may need to depart from their usual procedures at this time found here.

2) Reassurance that using professional judgement we can supply spectacles and contact lenses without first requiring the patient to attend an optical practice can be found here.

 

The AOP have announced a fee reduction for members amidst the coronavirus crisis, details can be found here.

The Association of British Dispensing Opticians have created a Covid-19-Practice Risk-Assessment-Form-20/05/20
 
Recommendations and resources for practices wishing to re-open can be found on Covid-19-Exit-Phase-Recommendations-20/05/20
 

Home Counties COVID-19 Updates 

Details of Eye Casualties in and around London can be accessed at London Eye Casualty Service

A patient questionnaire has been designed to screen patient symptoms before agreeing to see them for an eye examination.Covid 19 Questionnaire for patients 30032020

Practices offering MECs during COVID-19 may wish to display this guidance poster in their practices Covid19 A4 Poster 30032020

A MECs plan is available for practices offering Emergency appointments MECS Plan for Optometrists 31032020

All Emergency HES referrals should contact the relevant departments before sending patients to HES. Contact details can be found below