Performers List applications for optometrists who qualified in July are now being processed as a priority by Capita, with the Local Optical Committee Support Unit (LOCSU) providing onsite assistance.
The significant delays in the processing of National Performers List applications since Capita took over the administrative service this year have been branded “an absolute disgrace” by the profession.
LOCSU’s provision of staff time and expertise came in response to a delay in Capita’s implementation of its latest recovery plan, LOCSU clinical director, Katrina Venerus, explained.
A member of the NHS England management team is also working onsite with Capita to process Performers List applications.
Ms Venerus highlighted that: “It is an unacceptable situation that newly qualified optometrists are being prevented from providing NHS sight tests because of administration delays.
“Through the work that has been undertaken with Primary Care Support England (PCSE) this week, the operational management has improved and we have managed to get a significant number of applications approved,” she explained.
A series of daily panels has also been set up to clear the application backlog, Ms Venerus said, adding: “All outstanding applications from optometrists who qualified in July at have now been identified and are being actively processed as a priority, and we will be starting to focus on optometrists who qualified in September at the start of next week.
“The College of Optometrists’ education team has very helpfully written to the September cohort to identify all those waiting for an Ophthalmic Performers List number and we will work from this data,” she said.
Speaking to the profession at the National Optical Conference this month about Performers List delays, Capita’s new PCSE managing director, Simon England, said: “Clearing the backlog is our absolute number one priority in this area.”
Ms Venerus confirmed that she and the wider optical sector will continue to represent the profession and the serious and widespread concerns it has with the quality of service provided by Capita, which took over PCSE services from the NHS over the past year.
“The chief executives of the AOP, the Association of British Dispensing Opticians and the Federation of Dispensing Opticians have written again formally to the Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, and again to NHS England leaders, including chief executive, Simon Stevens, earlier this week to express the sector’s anger that the backlog has not been resolved by PCSE and to raise further the issue of compensation for members who have experienced significant business interruption and losses,” she concluded.
Optometrists have also suffered incorrect and late General Ophthalmic Service payments, form order problems and customer service enquiry delays to Capita throughout 2016.
Image credit: Petr Kratochvil