OFNC calls for clarity on funding arrangements for optical practices in England

Concerns have been raised by the Optometric Fees Negotiating Committee about the lack of clarity provided by NHS England on financial support

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The national negotiating body for eye care in England has expressed concern about a lack of clarity from NHS England regarding funding arrangements for optical practices.

More than two months after the first phase of COVID-19 financial support formally ended in June, the level of support that will be provided beyond August remains unclear.

The Optometric Fees Negotiating Committee (OFNC), which comprises the leaders of UK representative bodies within optics, has highlighted that it is still unclear what level of activity is required for fixed practices have qualified for support in August.

“We will expect NHS England to take a fair and pragmatic approach in deciding which practices are eligible for payments,” a statement from OFNC highlighted.

In July, the OFNC agreed with England that there would be continued average GOS support for all open GOS contractors in England until the end of the month.

This would continue until the end of August for practices that meet a threshold of historic GOS1 activity. Domiciliary providers would also be eligible for average GOS support for the month without the need to meet a minimum activity threshold.

Uncertainty also remains over whether domiciliary providers and practices that largely provide NHS care will be eligible for further support beyond August.

“We fully appreciate the difficult circumstances many contractors are still facing, and the added difficulty caused by the lack of certainty over future support arrangements. We fully share that frustration,” the OFNC stated.

The negotiating body is continuing urgent discussions with NHS England and hopes to be able to provide a further statement on COVID-19 financial support soon.