The government has announced today (August 13) that it will impose a 1% increase in fees for services provided under the General Ophthalmic Services (GOS) contract.
The decision comes despite a rejection of the offer by the Optometric Fees Negotiating Committee (OFNC).
The announcement includes details for CET grants, which have also increased by 1%, and follows on from the 1% rise in optical voucher values, which was announced in April.
Responding to the decision, Mike George, chair of the OFNC and an AOP board member, said: “We are deeply disappointed that this fee has been imposed upon the sector, without agreement or any apparent regard to the evidence submitted. And it is even more disappointing given the significant extra funds that are being invested by the government in other areas of primary care.
“Community optical practices have a major role to play in the NHS priority of preserving older people’s sight, helping them remain independent, avoid falls and stay out of hospital, as well as safeguarding the eye health of the wider population. It is a pity that this continues to be unrecognised in proper fees and that once again optical practices will subsidise NHS England’s goals without proper recognition.”
OFNC secretary, Ann Blackmore, commented: “With such poor increases in the sight test fee going back for many years now, the government and NHS England must refrain from imposing any further unfunded administrative and regulatory burdens on community optical practices, many of which are struggling to keep open for their patients in these tough times.
“We look forward to continuing discussions with NHS England about IT connectivity and can only hope this will be more fruitful.”
Papers relating to the 2015–16 fees negotiations round are available on the Optical Confederation website.