A bid has been submitted for the Driving and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) vision services contract by a group of optical organisations.
The Association of Independent Optometrists and Dispensing Opticians (AIO), Vision Express, Smart Employee Eyecare, Hakim Group and Leightons Opticians & Hearing have partnered for the tender.
Chairman of the AIO, Christian French, said that the association is ‘delighted’ to be teaming up with other organisations for the bid and is inviting all independent practices to become part of the tender.
“To be clear, this is about inclusivity, and all independent providers are invited to join our tender for the DVLA test, whether or not they are members of AIO,” Mr French shared.
If the bid is accepted, the group highlighted that drivers requiring DVLA-approved sight tests will have the option to visit independent practices, as well as national opticians.
They explained that the contract bid aims to provide drivers with a better geographical spread of optical practices in order to limit the distance people must travel for a DVLA sight test.
Patients of independent practices currently have to go outside of their usual practice for the DVLA sight test, the group added.
Collaboration in a changing landscape
CEO of the Hakim Group, Imran Hakim, said that partnering with other optical organisations allows independent practices to access the DVLA contract without having to sign up individually.
Mr Hakim said: “It is critical that independents start to increasingly explore new ways to collaborate in this changing landscape to make the most of opportunities like these. This isn't just about the DVLA tender, it is about the fundamental opportunity to build rapport and trust with the public.”
CEO of Vision Express, Jonathan Lawson, said that the multiple is happy teaming up with independent practitioners in order to “offer the public better choice and more convenience.”
Chief executive of Smart Employee Eyecare, Frances Rus, explained that the company will provide the benefit of being part of the Duncan & Todd Opticians group in Scotland to the service if the bid is approved.
“The IT systems that we bring to the table will provide a seamless approach for linking up all the participating practices across the country and delivering an efficient and cost-effective solution to the DVLA,” Ms Rus said.
CEO of Leightons Opticians & Hearing Care, Ryan Leighton, added: “Our network of practices offers a wide range of clinical services for patients, including hearing care and it is only natural that we would wish to offer a DVLA eye test as well.”
The DVLA contract was awarded to Specsavers in 2014, with the multiple carrying out visual field and acuity testing on behalf of the agency. The contract expires this year.
OT contacted the DVLA who declined to comment on any ongoing bids.
OT understands that Boots Opticians has not tendered a submission for the DVLA contract. However, a spokesperson for Boots Opticians told OT that the organisation ‘does not comment on market speculation.’
Specsavers stated that it does not comment on commercial matters, including tender processes.