Our view on private sight tests in England and care across the UK

Plus, indemnity insurance in England. Updated 18 June 2020

In our email to members in England on Friday, we explained that NHS England had accepted that GOS providers would start offering private sight testing this week, and so in our view practices in England can offer face-to-face care to private patients from 15 June, following guidance on infection prevention and control. We recommended that patients should be prioritised based on need and symptoms. That remains our view. 

Indemnity insurance in England

For the avoidance of doubt, AOP members who provide private care from 15 June in England, following all relevant practice SOPs, guidance on safe practice and record keeping, will be covered by their indemnity insurance as usual.

In recent days, the College and GOC have made statements which have caused some confusion about what practices can and cannot do.

We expect NHS England to issue guidance soon explaining arrangements for the resumption of GOS sight testing in England.

Providing care in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland

None of the above affects the position in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland. 

Again, recent statements from the GOC have caused confusion for members in these nations. The resumption of sight testing raises consideration of public health issues as well as professional regulation, and we strongly recommend that members in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland seek advice from their national optometry body before offering any private face-to-face care, other than any essential or urgent care they are already providing.


For media enquiries, please contact Mary Jones, Interim PR and Media Manager, at the Association of Optometrists, [email protected] or telephone 020 7549 2040.

Notes to Editors

Association of Optometrists

The Association of Optometrists (AOP) is the leading representative membership organisation for optometrists in the UK. We support over 82% of practising optometrists, to fulfil their professional roles to protect the nation’s eye health. For more information, visit