OFNC continues funding negotiations with NHS England

After reports of a pause on payment processing, the OFNC has clarified that support payments for September may be made retrospectively

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The Optometric Fees Negotiating Committee (OFNC) is continuing to discuss funding support arrangements for optical practices with NHS England.

A statement from the national negotiating body for eye care in England confirmed that NHS England has repeatedly indicated that it expects to issue guidance soon on COVID-19 issues in the optical sector, including funding arrangements.

The OFNC, which comprises the leaders of UK representative bodies within optics, has argued that NHS England should make support payments available to optical practices for September, in the same way as for August.

“We understand that NHS England is actively considering this and will confirm the position on September support payments in its forthcoming guidance,” the statement highlighted.

The OFNC also noted reports that Primary Care Support England had told some contractors that no more support payments will be processed this month.

“We raised this with NHS England…as a matter of urgency and can confirm it does not mean that NHS England has decided to stop support payments,” the OFNC clarified.

“The ongoing delay in issuing updated NHS England guidance means that any payments relating to September may have to be made retrospectively, rather than as part of the normal round of payments made in October.”

The negotiating body highlighted that the further delay in guidance from NHS England is adding to the significant challenges across the sector as a result of COVID-19.

“We continue to press NHS England to confirm the position on future support as a top priority and will provide more information as soon as we can,” the OFNC emphasised.

OT is following the situation closely and will keep readers informed as developments unfold.