Optometrists and local optical committees (LOCs) are being urged to support a strategy to increase the pace and scale of commissioning primary eye care services.
In anticipation of a rapid growth of minor eye condition services (MECS) across England, one of its key objectives for 2016–17 is to have a workforce that is ready and accredited to deliver them.
The LOC Support Unit (LOCSU) launched the new strategy on 5 February which is underpinned by a series of objectives with targets. An implementation plan was also launched to assure delivery within the required timeframe.
LOCSU managing director, Katrina Venerus (pictured), said: “To increase the scale of MECS commissioning, it is vital that we get ahead of the game with accreditation. A proactive approach demonstrates our commitment to CCGs and Acute Trusts that the optometry workforce is ready to play a wider role in the NHS.”
Historically, LOCs have been organising accreditation courses once a clinical commissioning group has agreed MECS. Going forward, LOCSU will be working with LOCs to ensure all optometrists across England can access MECS accreditation so that they are ready and able to participate in any NHS-commissioned service that is negotiated.
LOCSU has highlighted that in the absence of an NHS-commissioned service, MECS could also be offered privately.
There are two parts to the training and accreditation for MECS. The first entails the completion of a series of online distance learning lectures and multiple choice examinations delivered for LOCSU by the Wales Optometry Postgraduate Education Centre (WOPEC).
Just under 2000 optometrists have already successfully completed part one, a necessary requisite before progressing to part two.
The second part of the accreditation is an objective structured clinical examination (OSCE). The practical skills assessment is currently delivered at a local level on request from LOCs and is led and administered by WOPEC. Just under 1000 optometrists have completed this.
LOCs should email firstname.lastname@example.org to request distance learning codes to distribute to optometrists in their area.
A programme of geographical OSCEs is being developed by LOCSU and WOPEC, with additional capacity being provided by the College of Optometrists. LOCSU will contact LOCs in the coming weeks to discuss arrangements.