LOC celebrates tender success

Optical practices to work with hospitals to provide ophthalmology in the community

Kensington, Chelsea, Westminster local optical committee (KCW LOC) has received formal confirmation that its bid to deliver ophthalmology services in the community in a new way, with optical practices working together with local hospitals to provide NHS eye care, has been successful.

The Partnership Community Ophthalmology Bid for the Tri-borough tender was put together by the two local acute trusts and the LOC, fighting off competition from other private eye care providers.

The collaboration was between the Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and the LOC. Optometrists will be able to take part in the service through the LOC company, Primary Eyecare Tri-Borough London Limited, which is also known as PETL. 

Established by KCW LOC, in partnership with Ealing Hammersmith and Hounslow LOC, PETL will subcontract from the Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, as will the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. 

Optometrists who take part will be going above general ophthalmic services, delivering diagnosis and management and in many cases treatment of “an unprecedented amount” of eye conditions, according to the LOC. 

Training, sessional work in secondary care hubs and clinical governance will be provided to optometrists by the NHS Trusts. 

The agreement with the Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust means that optometrists will be paid a tariff of £50 per presentation to manage eye conditions, including blepharitis and glaucoma. As long as optometrists in practice achieve accreditation, they will be eligible to deliver the service. 

Several independent practices and two large UK multiples have signed up to deliver the service locally.

Chairman of the LOC, Panos Nicolaou, owner of the CrossEyes practice in Clerkenwell, London, told OT: "This is so great for our profession. Local optometrists can now deliver NHS eye care properly in partnership with ophthalmologists."

Mr Nicolaou added: "Winning this bid will have a really positive impact on our profession. Services which until now have been delivered for the NHS in hospital eye clinics and privately by a small number of leading optometrists can now be delivered for the NHS by all optometrists." 

The success of the bid has been welcomed by those involved. Consultant ophthalmologist and vitreoretinal surgeon at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, Rahila Zakir, said: "This is fantastic news, and I want to thank all who have spent many months working on this."

Managing director of the Local Optical Committee Support Unit (LOCSU), Katrina Venerus, said: “LOCSU is delighted that this partnership bid, which our team supported, has been successful. It is important to acknowledge that KCW LOC has worked extremely hard for a number of years to build the local relationships that make this sort of collaborative project a possibility.” 

Ms Venerus added: “The joint working between the LOC company and the NHS trusts involved will be an excellent opportunity to move towards exactly the new models of more patient-centred integrated care that will be needed for sustainable eye health services for the future and LOCSU looks forward to working with all concerned to achieve this."