MECS assessments boosted to meet growing demand

Additional MECS assessments will be provided to meet the nationwide demand for eye care services

Additional MECS assessments will be provided to meet the nationwide demand for eye care services

Plans are being put in place to ‘significantly’ increase the number of Minor Eye Conditions Service (MECS) practical assessments across England, it was announced yesterday (4 May).

Working with the Wales Optometry Postgraduate Education Centre (WOPEC) and the Local Optical Committee Support Unit (LOCSU), the College of Optometrists will now host MECS Part 2 assessments to increase the overall number of places available to optometrists, in a bid to aid the growing demand for primary eye care services provided by optometrists.

WOPEC provides Part 1 of the training, which is funded by LOCSU, as well as working with local optical committees (LOCs) and clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) to run Part 2 Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) assessments (pictured).

Director of education at the College of Optometrists, Jackie Martin, said: “The College already successfully runs large-scale practical assessments through the OSCE for the Scheme for Registration, so we have the experience and understanding to be able to offer the MECS assessment to a large number of optometrists.

“As well as providing a valuable service to the profession at a key time in the development of community service provision, with the MECS qualification being a first step on the higher qualification ladder, we will also be looking at additional ways the College can support its members who undertake this assessment in preparation for working in community services.”

Commenting on the plans, LOCSU managing director, Katrina Venerus, added: “The new breakthrough strategy for the sector aims to make MECS central to every LOC and practice around the country. For our part, as a profession, we have to push ahead and show CCGs that we have a ready and able workforce that is committed to playing a wider role in the NHS, particularly to meet the increased eye health services.

“We are grateful for the support from the College of Optometrists and WOPEC to help us achieve this by getting the workforce on the front foot and ready to deliver these services.”

The practical exam consists of five individually assessed stations. Each station, lasting five minutes, will assess competencies in areas such as communication, clinical skills and data interpretation.

The assessments will run this year in Manchester (18 August) and London (24 August) and cost £135. More information is available on the College of Optometrists website.