The Government has today announced that it will impose a 1% increase in fees for services provided under the GOS contract. This offer had been rejected by the OFNC, the negotiating body for the optical sector.
Following the negotiations with the OFNC, the Government has offered a 2.5% increase on grants for CET and the training of pre-registration optometrists. The OFNC welcomes this increase. However no progress has been made on the IT proposals put forward by the OFNC, and the bid for funding that would enable proper investment in IT.
Claire Slade, Chair of the OFNC said: “We all understand the need for tough choices in tough times, no one better than optometrists and opticians. We do this on a daily basis to survive and continue to serve our patients. However we could not in all conscience accept the Government’s offer of 1% on fees in a year when so many practices are struggling. I now hand over my role as the chair of the OFNC to my colleague Mike George, who I know will continue the ongoing battle for fair fees for community optical practices.”
Ann Blackmore, incoming OFNC secretary said: “It is difficult to negotiate when the presumption is for yet more cuts, but we have managed to achieve some significant gains. We are pleased that the Government has recognised that there is no more efficiency to be squeezed out of the sight test fee, which is already at rock bottom. Also, as a result of our negotiations, we have achieved an increased offer of 2.5% on grants for CET and the training of pre-registration optometrists. These, along with the 2% increase in voucher values, which benefit our most vulnerable patients, are welcome moves from the Government.”
Mordechai Chachamu, National IT Policy Manager at the Optical Confederation said: “To date community optical practices have met all the costs of modernisation themselves. But in current hard times we need a little help if we are to deliver on the Government’s objectives of providing more care outside hospital, streamlining pathways and reducing costs and meeting the eye health needs of seldom heard and at risk groups to prevent avoidable sight loss. NHS England and Ministers must address this. I hope that all LOCs and practices will make this point when responding to the Eye Health Call to Action.”
Notes for editors:
- The Optometric Fees Negotiating Committee (OFNC) is the community eye health equivalent of the BMA’s and BDA’s General Practice Committees and community pharmacist’s pharmaceutical services negotiating committee (PSNC). It is the recognised negotiating body for fees for the professions. Its members include the ABDO, the AOP, the BMA, and FODO
- The Chair and secretariat to the OFNC are provided by AOP and FODO on a rotational basis. Mike George (AOP) has changed places with Claire Slade (FODO) as Chair of OFNC for the next two years. Ann Blackmore (of FODO) replaced Richard Carswell (AOP) as OFNC secretary, when the latter retired on 31 March 2014. In addition, Brian Carroll has retired this year from OFNC (FODO) after many years battling for fair fees for the professions. He is replaced by Richard Edwards (FODO)
- The full new membership of OFNC for 2014-15 negotiating round for fees in 2015-16 is Mike George (Optometrist, AOP – Chair OFNC), Henrietta Alderman (AOP CEO), Richard Edwards (Optometrist, FODO), Claire Slade (Optometrist, FODO), Trevor Warburton (Optometrist AOP), Gordon Illet (AOP), Simon Longstaff (OMP BMA), John Maingay (BMA), Professor Nagasumbramanian (OMP BMA), Sir Anthony Garrett (CEO ABDO), David Hewlett (CEO FODO). Secretary: Ann Blackmore (FODO)
- Each negotiating year starts with a strategy Away Day. The next will be in Autumn 2014. The OFNC is always grateful to receive comments, advice and perspectives from Optical Confederation members and can be contacted via Ann@fodo.com
- Download papers relating to the 2013-14 negotiating round.