New OFNC Chair confirms course for the coming year

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

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The incoming Chair of the Optometric Fees Negotiating Committee (OFNC), Gordon Ilett, has thanked outgoing Chair Paul Carroll for the leadership he has provided throughout the COVID-19 crisis. He confirmed that the OFNC’s top priorities for the coming year would continue to be supporting the optical sector through the pandemic and pressing for a fairer level of GOS sight test fee and grants.

Paul Carroll said: “As always, OFNC is a collective effort of very able people and it has been a privilege to lead the team. 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.”   

Gordon Ilett said: “Like Paul I have worked at the sharp end owning my own optical practice for over 30 years. 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 PPE. Even now 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.”

“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 so 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.”


Notes for editors

  1. The Optometric Fees Negotiating Committee (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-NHS Improvement. It comprises the leaders of the UK representative bodies: ABDO, AOP, FODO and BMA (for OMPs) and works in partnerships with the College of Optometrists and the General Optical Council.
  2. The Chair and secretariat to the OFNC are provided on an alternating basis by the AOP and FODO. AOP member Gordon Ilett has replaced FODO member Paul Carroll as Chair from 5 April 2021, while David Hewlett of FODO has replaced Tony Stafford of AOP as secretary. 
  3. Gordon Ilett has been an optometrist for 35 years. He trained at City University, with pre-registration placements in private practice and at Moorfields Eye Hospital. He was partner/owner of a group of optical practices in South London and Kent for 33 years, and also worked as a sessional hospital optometrist for 17 years. He has held a wide variety of optical roles, including for the College of Optometrists and the Institute of Optometry, and has a special interest in the eye health of people with learning disabilities. Gordon is presently the Chairman of the trustees of the charity SeeAbility, an Optometric Advisor to NHS England (South East), the co-chair of the Domiciliary Eyecare Committee, and a member of the General Optical Council’s Advisory Committee. Gordon is also a Director and Councillor of the AOP.