The Government has announced that the current NHS sight test fee, under the General Ophthalmic Services (GOS) contract, will remain at the same level in 2017/18. Optical vouchers, which provide help to patients on low incomes and to children who need spectacles, have also been frozen. A 1% increase for the continuing education and training (CET) allowance and the grant to train pre-registration optometrists has been approved.
In response, Henrietta Alderman, AOP Chief Executive, said: “The announcement that the NHS sight test fee will remain unchanged in 2017/18 is a real blow to the sector. The AOP firmly believes that the fee does not reflect the value of the clinical professionals who carry out eye examinations. Our members deserve funding that covers the real cost of a sight test.
“We recognise the context of this settlement – where 22 billion pounds worth of efficiencies is being demanded across UK healthcare including other areas of primary care. We are very aware of the pressures being faced throughout health and social care. However, the NHS sight test continues to be under-funded despite optical professionals playing an ever more important role in delivering enhanced community services – which is proven to significantly reduce pressure on hospitals and GP surgeries. Practitioners are finding it near impossible to deliver the NHS sight test without the funding in place. The move not only has negative consequences for the sector but has the potential to have a direct detrimental effect on patient care.”
The Optometric Fees Negotiating Committee (OFNC), which represents optics to government, has released a statement following this announcement. The AOP has members on the OFNC which has raised concerns about inadequate reimbursement of the NHS sight test fee to government.
For more information, read our position statement on sight test fees: www.aop.org.uk/sighttestfees
For more information, please contact Serena Box, PR and Media Manager, at the Association of Optometrists, SerenaBox@aop.org.uk or telephone 020 7549 2063.
Notes to Editors
Association of Optometrists
The Association of Optometrists (AOP) is the leading representative membership organisation for optometrists in the UK. We support our community of more than 16,500 members to fulfil their professional roles to protect the nation’s eye health. As a founding member of the Optical Confederation we work with others to improve eye health for the public good. For more information, visit www.aop.org.uk
Optometrist Fees Negotiating Committee
The Optometrist Fees Negotiating Committee (OFNC) comprises the British Medical Association (BMA) and the following representatives of the Optical Confederation: the Association of British Dispensing Opticians (ABDO), the Association of Optometrists (AOP) and the Federation of (Ophthalmic and Dispensing) Opticians (FODO).