Coronavirus: important information for members
During this time, the AOP will remain open to support all our members. Our teams are currently working to produce the guidance you need and assist with your queries, while working closely with optical partners and Government about the immediate measures needed to protect the future of the sector.
This page will provide a quick guide to some of the latest information from the AOP, and will be reviewed daily.
Contacting the AOP
In light of the COVID-19 outbreak and a government directive on social distancing, the AOP head office team is now working remotely. We appreciate that this is a difficult time for members and you will have a number of queries and concerns. As always, the AOP team is working hard to continue to support and protect you throughout. We are experiencing a high volume of queries at the moment. In order to manage this process more effectively, please can you email your enquiry, along with your membership number, to the relevant departments listed on the Our People page.
We appreciate that the volume of enquiries will be high to particular departments. To contact the Legal team, please address your enquiry to one of the email addresses below:
- For GOC matters, patient complaints and NHS investigations: [email protected]
- For ongoing or potential claims, and requests for records by solicitors: [email protected]
- For employment matters: [email protected]
- For clinical queries, GDPR, and general NHS enquiries: [email protected]
For membership queries, please contact: [email protected]
AOP advice and FAQs on Coronavirus (COVID-19)
We have published Novel Coronavirus advice for members, including the latest NHS England advice, that we are updating on a regular basis.
We have also published
- a list of FAQs which we will continue to update as the situation unfolds
- a list of common employment questions which will also be regularly reviewed and updated
Please note that we have updated our advice on routine sight tests - see Coronavirus (COVID-19): when to provide a sight test
Support for locums
Locum optometrists are suffering real hardship as the COVID-19 crisis worsens. This problem extends far beyond optics, potentially affecting five million self-employed people in the UK.
On Friday 20 March the Chancellor announced changes that will give extra support to self-employed people, including locums. These include deferred income tax payments and enhanced access to statutory sick pay and universal credit. However, we recognise that these measures won’t in themselves provide adequate financial support to locums without work. The Financial Times reported on Sunday 22 March that the Government is looking urgently at further steps to protect self-employed people from the financial impact of COVID-19, which may include the same model of income protection that’s being offered to employees who are furloughed because of the crisis. We will alert our members to any further changes as soon as we know more.
The AOP and the other optical sector bodies, via the Optometric Fees Negotiating Committee, are also working closely with NHS England on how best to support GOS contractors during this very difficult period. NHS England is well aware of the need to do this urgently, and the OFNC expects to be able to provide more information on this soon. Updates to the sector are expected shortly.
Postponement of extension of IR35
Members were sent a detailed update about preparing for changes related to IR35, by email on 26 February 2020. In the light of unprecedented recent events, the government is now postponing the extension of IR35 to medium and large companies in the private sector for a year until 6 April 2021. We know that many of you working for larger companies will have been given new contracts to sign. In light of this news, you should check with the company whether this is still a requirement for them.
For questions about sick pay, cancellation of locum work, shorter hours or unpaid leave, please visit our Coronavirus FAQs page.
Updated 23 March 2020