Wales follows suit with sight test fee freeze

Optometry Wales highlights the Welsh government’s continued investment in eye care, despite an NHS sight test fee freeze

Eye test equipment

The Welsh government has confirmed its intention to freeze NHS sight test fees in Wales at 2015–16 levels. It remains at £21.31 from 1 April 2016–31 March 2017.

The news comes after a freeze was also announced in England earlier this month (14 March)

However, acknowledging the freeze, chief executive of Optometry Wales, Sali Davis, emphasised that the Welsh government’s continued investment in eye care in Wales cannot be ignored. 

She told OT: “Whilst we acknowledge the disappointing news from the Department of Health and have noted that Welsh government have followed suit, we cannot overlook the significant investment that Welsh government continue to make in pushing more and more work, where appropriate, into community optometry.” 

Drawing on examples, Ms Davis referred to the Welsh government’s announcement yesterday (28 March) that from 1 April “all health boards will be expected to follow signed-off pathways that will see the majority of post-cataract patients have their follow-ups with community optometrists, and suspect glaucoma and OHT patients being discharged into the community with signed-off management plans for community optometrists to follow,” she said. 

Ms Davis continued: “The Welsh government has again committed to helping raise awareness of the need for regular sight tests, and for patients in Wales to first access their local, accredited High Street practice if they have any eye care problems. The fact that the Eyecare Plan for Wales will be extended until 2017 also reflects the value that civil servants and our Assembly members in Wales have for community-based eye care for patients in Wales.” 

Mirroring the English government’s decision on the continuing education and training (CET) grant and the fee to train pre-registration optometrists, both will rise by 1% in Wales. While the CET grant will increase from £535 to £540, the pre-registration supervisor grant rises from £3445 to £3479.