GOS sight test fee to increase by 1.68% from 1 April

The 39p increase has been labelled “derisory” by the Optometric Fees Negotiating Committee 

A calculator, notepad and a laptop are on a white desk
Pixabay/Daniel Friesenecker

The national negotiating body for eye care has expressed disappointment with a “derisory” General Ophthalmic Services (GOS) sight test fee increase of 1.68%.

The 39p increase will take effect from 1 April in England, taking the GOS sight test fee to £23.53. There will be no increase in the domiciliary visiting fee, the pre-registration training grant or CPD grant.

As part of its bid, the Optometric Fees Negotiating Committee (OFNC) provided evidence to the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) and NHS England showing that the NHS covers less than 50% of the real cost of a sight test.

Following protracted negotiations, the OFNC provided an update at the beginning of March stating that it was unable to accept the offer put forward by DHSC and NHS England.

However, the OFNC has now confirmed that the offer has been “unilaterally imposed.”

OFNC chair, Paul Carroll, said: “This derisory increase shows that talk is cheap. Despite effusive praise for the important role that primary eye care plays in meeting the nation’s vision and eye health needs, once again we find ourselves at the back of the NHS queue. It is hard to take seriously, warm statements made by Ministers, when they are not backed up by action.”

The 2024–2025 OFNC bid proposed a £2.86 increase to the NHS sight test, taking into account wider NHS cost pressures.

Points raised as part of the bid included the impact of cost and wage inflation on an already under-funded sight test, the history of previous under-inflationary settlements, and the impact of fuel and transport cost increases on the domiciliary sector.

The OFNC also highlighted cost increases resulting from the changes to the education and training for optometrists and the cost of additional administrative burdens on GOS providers resulting from changes to referral processes.