The General Ophthalmic Services (GOS) fee and voucher values will remain frozen, while the continuing education and training allowance and pre-registration grant will both receive a 2% increase, the Department of Health and Social Care has confirmed.
The fee paid to optometrists for a sight test will remain at the 2015–2016 level of £21.31 for 2019–2020.
A statement from the Optometric Fees Negotiating Committee (OFNC) highlighted that the committee had argued for a 3% increase in GOS fees on the basis of the efficiencies that optical contractors continue to deliver to the NHS, the rising costs that practitioners face and the extra money injected into the NHS in England.
Reacting to the decision, OFNC chair, Stuart Burdett emphasised: “There is no fair way this further freeze can be justified. The costs of providing NHS care have increased every bit as fast in optics as in other areas. This set-back will further convince hard-working front-line clinicians that Ministers in England simply don’t value the vital services we provide to NHS patients.”
The OFNC also argued for a rise in voucher values, highlighting that the freeze would result in a “real-terms cut” for patients.
The committee highlighted that GOS contractors were likely to be angered by the decision on GOS fees, particularly following Government comments about the end of austerity and lifting the cap on NHS staff pay.
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