Fresh off its announcement of a major partnership with NHS ophthalmic provider Newmedica, Specsavers has highlighted to independent practices the resources they are investing in minor eye conditions services (MECS).
The company reached out to independent practices interested in joining the brand in a new letter, speaking of its plans to bid for NHS and clinical commissioning group contracts and boost its accreditation programme.
Responding to concerns from independents, Specsavers has since assured the profession that it is committed to the local optical committee (LOC) model.
The letter read that: “Specsavers is entering into discussions with enhanced optical service-oriented independent practices that are willing to consider coming under our brand to participate in our transforming eye health approach.”
It highlighted that: “More than 2000 of our Specsavers optometrists are accredited in WOPEC 1 and 2 MECS and this is just the start of developing clinical skills and qualifications within our profession…To support our stores, we also have 16 full-time NHS liaison specialists, actively responding to invitations to bid for new contract work across England.”
AOP chief executive, Henrietta Alderman, explained that: “The letter is to individual practitioners inviting them to join the Specsavers team and it will be a business decision for those receiving it.”
She added: "As a founding member of the LOC Support Unit (LOCSU) board, we are keen to ensure that the LOC, supported by LOCSU, remains the driving force for gaining contracts, developing services and ensuring that everyone who wants to be involved, is involved."
"The Breakthrough Strategy, which we support wholeheartedly, has ambitious targets to ensure community services are a viable option for all. LOCSU is making good headway with this," Ms Alderman highlighted.
A Specsavers spokesperson told OT that: "We recognise that some of the wording in the letter may have given the wrong impression, and we will use a different version in any future mailings to our independent colleagues."
The statement reiterated that the multiple is “committed to continuing to work via LOCs and LOC companies to join in optometry-led community services contracts.
"The comment in the letter about upgrading accreditation to enable optometry to bid more effectively for MECS contracts was intended to refer to the inclusive approach we have adopted, taking the lead on delivering MECS Objective Structured Clinical Examination events in our stores across England over the last six months."
"All local practitioners, not just those working for Specsavers, have been invited to these events,” the statement concluded.