Optometry Scotland has negotiated an interim General Ophthalmic Services (GOS) fee increase for 2017–2018.
The fee for supplementary examinations will rise to £24.50, backdated to 1 April, 2017, and the CET allowance for independent prescribing optometrists will rise to £817 compared to £545 for non-prescribers.
The NHS has also postponed plans to introduce a charge for the paper submission of GOS forms for the 2017–2018 financial year.
The announcement on Wednesday (31 May) follows months of negotiation between the Scottish Government and the Optometry Scotland GOS committee.
Shona Robison, Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport, told OT that the investment supported the recommendations of the recent community eye care review.
“It is a clear demonstration to the optometry profession of the importance we place on their work as key providers of community healthcare – particularly in helping us deliver free eye examinations,” she emphasised.
Optometry Scotland reported that more substantive talks about GOS fees and their structure would be held in July in light of the recommendations from the community eyecare review, with a target implementation date of April 2018.
Optometry Scotland chair, Samantha Watson, highlighted to OT that delivering the recommendations of the review depended on the support and commitment of community optometrists and dispensing opticians.
“We look forward to the development of a fee structure that recognises the outstanding contribution community optometrists and dispensing opticians are making to deliver world class eye care for every community in Scotland,” she highlighted.
AOP chief executive, Henrietta Alderman, told OT that the Association applauded the Scottish Government for recognising the importance of investing properly in community optometry – although the fee increase for Scotland was the first since 2010.
“This news comes as a further blow to practitioners working in England, where NHS England has frozen the GOS sight test fee yet again for the 2017–2018 financial year – a move that does not reflect the value of the clinical professionals who carry out eye examinations,” she elaborated.
“Our members deserve funding that covers the real cost of a sight test,” Ms Alderman concluded.
AOP Council member for Scotland, Kevin Wallace, also welcomed the Government’s investment in community optometry.
“We look forward to this continuing as recommendations from the Community Eyecare Review are implemented,” he told OT.