“Urgent need to increase GOS fees” addressed during OFNC meeting with Primary Care Minister

The Optometric Fees Negotiating Committee raised IT connectivity, GOS funding and the potential of a national MECS/CUES service when meeting with Andrea Leadsom MP

Image shows a calculator, papers, pen and a notebook on a wooden table
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The Optometric Fees Negotiating Committee (OFNC) discussed the General Ophthalmic Services (GOS) fee during its first meeting with the Primary Care Minister, Rt Hon Dame Andrea Leadsom MP.

Several pressing issues affecting primary eye care were raised during the meeting, which took place on Monday 15 January.

The need for sustainable GOS funding to ensure that optometrists and dispensing opticians can continue to deliver high-quality care across the country was a key topic of conversation.

The need for integrated IT connectivity across eye care in England to help tackle the hospital ophthalmology backlogs and deliver the NHS aims and sustainability goals was also discussed, as were the potential benefits of a national MECS/CUES specification, and the additional capacity for appointments that this could allow across the sector.

Paul Carroll, OFNC chair, said: “We welcome the new minister’s willingness to discuss how primary eye care could take a more prominent role in helping the NHS to reduce waiting times and save direct and indirect costs for patients and the NHS.”

The OFNC is the national negotiating body for eye care in England with the Westminster Parliament, the Department of Health and Social Care and NHS England.

It is made up of representatives from the AOP, ABDO, FODO and the BMA, and works in partnership with the College of Optometrists and the General Optical Council.

Leadsom said that she was “delighted” to meet with the UK representative bodies, and to “discuss the essential role played by NHS sight testing in the prevention of avoidable sight loss, the current challenges facing eye care services, and how an expanded role for the primary eye care workforce could help alleviate ophthalmology pressures.”

Carroll added: “The minister is aware that the cornerstone of eye care is sight testing and the invaluable contribution GOS delivers, including identifying patients with eye disease.

“We stressed that there is an urgent need to increase GOS fees to close the widening gap between NHS sight test fees and inflation. We look forward to further discussions with the minister to address these pressing issues.”