Coronavirus: NHS England publishes specific guidance for optical practices

Screening questions for optical staff and practice posters are included in the latest resources

NHS England has published guidance on responding to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) that is tailored for optical practices.

A series of four standard operating procedures for GPs, pharmacy, dentistry and primary care optical settings have been published on the NHS England website.  

The guidance covers the national approach to responding to COVID-19, including the three guiding principles of identifying, isolating and containing potential cases of the virus.

It also outlines patient contact over the phone and in practice, with suggested questions that can be asked by optical staff to determine a patient’s level of risk.

What practice staff should do following the transfer of a patient who may have COVID-19 from the practice is covered in the document, as well as considerations in a domiciliary setting.

AOP guidance

The AOP has updated its COVID-19 guidance following the release of specific advice by NHS England for optical practices.
The AOP has emphasised that it is highly unlikely that patients who present to an optical practice with cold or flu-like symptoms will have the coronavirus.

“If patients inform you that they have any cold or flu-like symptoms before they arrive for their appointment then it is acceptable to advise them to rebook their appointment for when they have fully recovered,” the guidance states.

“If the patient only advises you of any cold or flu-like symptoms when they present to the practice, given the prolonged duration of close contact during an appointment, it is acceptable to advise the patient that you are unable to see them, and they should rebook on another day when they have recovered,” it adds.


At the latest General Optical Council (GOC) meeting on Wednesday (26 February), chief executive Lesley Longstone confirmed that the optical regulator is in weekly contact with NHS England about COVID-19.

“Things are starting to develop quite quickly in terms of new guidance. We are in regular contact with the NHS,” Ms Longstone shared.

She observed that although not every optical practice has an NHS contract, much of the information on COVID-19 is available through  

NHS England is enabling any practice, regardless of whether they have an NHS contract, to register with so they can access the latest coronavirus information.

OT endeavours to keep the most up-to-date news on our website and this information was correct when published. However, the situation regarding COVID-19 is rapidly evolving. Please check OT’s rolling optics-specific coverage for the latest news and guidance on COVID-19.