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New OFNC chair confirms priorities for the year ahead

An increase to the GOS sight test fee remains a focus for the negotiating body

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Getty/BrianAJackson

The incoming Optometric Fees Negotiating Committee (OFNC) chair, Gordon Ilett, has set out the course that the negotiating body will chart over the coming year.

Ilett has confirmed that the OFNC will continue to focus on supporting the optical sector through the pandemic, pressing for a fairer level of General Ophthalmic Services (GOS) sight test fee and grants.

Gordon Ilett
Incoming OFNC chair, Gordon Ilett
He said: “I know how challenging the last year has been for everyone in the sector. GOS contractors throughout England have worked incredibly hard to keep providing care to their patients, even in the early stages of the pandemic when remote care was key in the absence of personal protective equipment.

“Some practices are still facing financial challenges because of the restrictions introduced at the start of 2021, and we will keep making the case for additional targeted support where necessary. We encourage GOS contractors to keep us informed of the challenges they are facing.”

He added: “It is also a top priority for the OFNC to keep pushing for a proper increase to the GOS sight test fee, which has been badly eroded by rising costs and inflation in recent years. The 1.9% increase that has recently been announced for 2021–22 is a start, but much more is needed. Maintaining patient services and achieving fairer, evidence-based, fees will remain our focus as, once again, the NHS reorganises around us.”

Ilett began his role on 5 April, and also thanked outgoing OFNC chair Paul Carroll for the leadership he has provided throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Carroll called the OFNC “a collective effort of very able people” and said that it had “been a privilege to lead the team.”

He added: “This has been the year where, backed by the tremendous effort and support of the whole sector, we have been able to demonstrate our vital importance to the nation’s eye health. I wish Gordon every success in his role as chair and helping us secure fairer funding for the essential public health service we provide.”

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