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GOS fee to increase in Scotland

The fee for NHS-funded eye examinations carried out under GOS at practices in Scotland will increase to 3% from February

child sight test
Pexels/Antoni Shkraba

The General Ophthalmic Services (GOS) fee paid to optometrists in Scotland is set to increase by 3%.

The Scottish Government has confirmed that the fees paid to optometrists carrying out NHS-funded eye examinations will rise from next week, a decision that has been welcomed by optometry bodies.

The increase will be backdated to include all GOS eye examinations and supplementary eye examinations undertaken from 1 April last year (2021).

David Quigley, the chair of Optometry Scotland, welcomed the increase: “These are significant developments which acknowledge the excellent service provided by community eye care colleagues across Scotland.”

The optical body has “campaigned for an increase and implementation of a sustainable funding model to safeguard and enhance the future of community optometry,” Quigley continued, adding: “Thanks to a strong working relationship and ongoing constructive dialogue with the Scottish Government we are pleased to see this come to fruition.”

We’re pleased to see that this vital health provision has the recognition it deserves with an increase in funding.

Kevin Wallace, AOP Councillor

Scotland became the only UK nation to offer free, universal NHS-funded eye examinations for patients in 2006.

Described as a “milestone,” the fee increase marks the first major review of the Scottish GOS contract since it was introduced. Quigley shared that Optometry Scotland looks forward to “establishing an annual review process.”

The AOP welcomed the fee increase for practices in Scotland, with AOP Councillor, Kevin Wallace, commenting: “Scotland set itself apart with a new delivery model for eye care where all eye examinations, which include a sight test and eye health check, are free for patients.”

“We’re pleased to see that this vital health provision has the recognition it deserves with an increase in funding,” he said.

Wallace thanked the team at Optometry Scotland “who have campaigned hard to secure sustainable funding that will help ensure everyone in Scotland can access high quality eye care,” and acknowledged the Scottish Government’s support, suggesting that it “clearly sees the vital importance of this service in a healthier nation.”

A memorandum detailing the update outlined that fees for primary eye examinations will be set at £38.11 while fees for standard supplementary eye examinations will be £25.24 and £39.14 for enhanced supplementary examinations.

Domiciliary fees are set at £38.69 for the first and second patients on a visit to one location, and an additional £9.68 for subsequent patients at the same site.

CET allowance available has been set at the sum of £590, while IPCET allowance is £884.

In a government update announcing the fee increase, public health minister, Maree Todd, suggested that “increasing the fees paid to optometrists for providing this vital service ensures everyone across the country can continue to access high quality eye care services.”

The public health minister thanked those within community optometry “for their invaluable work and dedication in response to the pandemic – staffing Emergency Eyecare Treatment Centres during the initial phase of the pandemic, supporting the vaccine programme, and the outstanding efforts made in returning to delivering pre-pandemic levels of care.”

In the year prior to the pandemic (2018-2019), a record 2.3 million people had an eye examination with an optometrist under the optometry service.