GOS sight test fee to increase by 2%

The sight test fee, CET allowances and pre-registration supervision grants will all increase by 2% from April 2022

pen and calculator
Pixabay/Steve Buissinne

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has confirmed that General Ophthalmic Services (GOS) fees for sight tests, CET allowances and pre-registration supervision grants will increase 2% from April 2022.

The sight test fee will increase from £21.71 to £22.14. The Optometric Fees Negotiating Committee (OFNC) was calling for the GOS sight test fee to rise by 7% to £23.26.

At the time of the bid, the Bank of England forecast inflation to peak at 5% in 2022 before correcting to 2% in 2024.

The OFNC, which comprises the leaders of UK representative bodies within optics, expressed disappointment with the level of GOS increase, acknowledging that it would be a “a blow to primary eye care providers who have shown active commitment to delivering health care throughout the pandemic to meet public needs and reduce pressures on secondary care.”

“With inflation rapidly rising month by month, we have made it clear to DHSC that this is in real terms a cut to funding and that the ongoing underfunding of primary eye care in England is likely to result in reduced capacity exactly when patients and the NHS need it most,” a statement from the OFNC emphasised.

The DHSC has also confirmed that patient voucher values will increase by 2% from April 2022, after being frozen for six years.

In January, the Scottish Government confirmed that the GOS fee would rise by 3% in Scotland.

In response to the announcement, AOP chief executive, Adam Sampson, said: “The confirmed 2% increase on the current sight test fee is in line with the low expectations from NHS England and NHS Improvement proposals but is in no way what we believe is right or fair for the sector.”

“NHS eye hospital departments continue to face huge pressures especially amidst COVID-19 backlogs. But optometry is well placed to play a larger role in the provision of NHS eye care, be part of the solution and free up capacity in ophthalmology. Members have proven their ability to do this time and time again – providing enhanced services throughout the pandemic in the form of COVID-19 urgent eye care services (CUES). But for this to continue long term there is no alternative but to ensure their clinical skills are properly remunerated. The sight test forms the cornerstone of eye care and it is important that there is appropriate NHS funding for this vital service. We continue to fight for members on this issue,” Sampson emphasised.

The recently published NHS England annual report for 2020/2021 revealed that 4000 optical practices stayed open to provide urgent and emergency eye care at the height of the pandemic when routine eye care was paused.

More than 80 clinical commissioning groups rolled out CUES, which saw optical practices operate as urgent eye care hubs.