COVID-19

Dear All, 

   We hope this finds you all well. We thought the LOC could assist you by providing an update mainly based upon advice from LOCSU among other sources

LOCSU NEWSFLASH. 

                                                                                                     Please see below.

 

 

 

2 April 2020

   OFNC guidance on changes to primary eye care     in England

  As set out in our statement of 1 April, this document addresses the main questions raised by our members so far about the NHS England     optical  letter of 1 April 2020. It is based on our understanding of the information NHS England has shared to date. We will update this guidance   as the situation develops, and as we receive more information from NHS England and queries from the members of the OFNC bodies.
 
 Provision of services

 1. All routine care is suspended – am I required to close my practice?
 No, you do not have to close. You should not offer routine sight-testing and dispensing (to avoid all unnecessary travel and person-to-person   contact) but you may stay open so that your clinical team can provide:

  • essential eye care as defined in the NHS England letter, and/or 
  • urgent / emergency care.  

 This includes providing remote care and dispensing, and meeting the needs of those patients not entitled to GOS, in line with the College of   Optometrists’ guidance on providing care during the crisis and the GOC’s guidance on the provision of spectacles and contact lenses.
 
 2. Will I be forced to open?
 NHS England has no plans either to force practices to close or to remain open. The aim is to direct all patients who need essential, urgent or   emergency NHS eye care to optical practices during the crisis, to meet their care needs and keep pressure off other parts of the NHS. If   undersupply occurs, NHS England or CCGs may work through LOCs to ask practices to volunteer to reopen if they can. In most cases, we   expect practices will continue to offer essential eye care and support their own patients.
 
 3.Why does the NHS England letter talk about delivering services from only a limited number of practices?
 Depending on the progress of the COVID-19 crisis, NHS England regional teams may need to work with optical practices, LOCs, and CCGs to   ensure that practice opening arrangements continue to protect public health and ensure appropriate and adequate levels of care – particularly   urgent and emergency care. The OFNC will monitor this closely and provide further advice if necessary. 
 
 4. Do I need permission to continue to provide essential care?
 No, you do not need to get permission to stay open or to inform your NHS England regional team. 
 
 5. If I provide essential NHS care, do I also need to provide urgent or emergency care?
 You only need to provide urgent or emergency NHS care if you have a contract to do so. 
 
 6. I don’t currently provide urgent or emergency care under a MECS or similar contract, how can I start doing that?
 The OFNC, LOCSU and others are working with NHS England to put in place local urgent and emergency care services where these do not   already exist. LOCSU will work with all LOCs to communicate these arrangements as soon as possible.
 
 7. What happens if I’ve already completely closed my practice, or want to close it now or in future?
 If your practice is completely closed and you are not providing any essential care (e.g. remotely), you will not receive GOS support payments for   the duration of the closure. You will be able to claim any general Government business support for which you are eligible, such as business   grants and payments under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme. 
 
 Domiciliary services

 8. I have a domiciliary practice, how does the letter apply to me?
 In the same way as any other practice as above. People who cannot leave home unaided will need essential and urgent eye care during the   crisis  the same way as everyone else.  
 
 9. What if a non-COVID positive patient in a care home needs essential or urgent care, but their care home is locked down or they are   being sheltered or self-isolating?
 Remote care (including symptom relief) should be provided. This may involve advising and working with and through other clinicians (e.g. nurses,   visiting GPs), trained care workers or carers who are admitted into the home. In the case of lost or broken glasses, consider using any available   evidence such as broken glasses, old prescriptions and previous records to enable emergency replacements to be supplied.
 
 Support for services that remain open

 10. I wish to continue to provide essential services – what payment will I receive?
 If you continue to provide essential care in line with official public health advice and College of Optometrists guidance, you will receive a monthly   payment based on your average monthly GOS claims for the period from March 2019 to February 2020. This will include voucher claims. Where   your actual GOS claims during the crisis exceed this level, you will be paid the additional claims in the usual way. This is a grant payment, not a   loan. It will be subject to a reduction for variable costs associated with service delivery, which will be agreed with the OFNC. We will provide   more  information about this process as soon as we can.
 
 11. My practice has been open less than a year, how will average fees be calculated?
 NHS England has said average fees will be calculated on a fair and reasonable basis taking into account your average monthly GOS claims   during the period your practice has been open.
 
 12. When will I know how much will be deducted for variable costs?
 The OFNC will agree this with NHS England. We will provide further information as soon as we can. 
 
 13. How do I ensure that claims for additional Government support schemes only relate to my proportion of private revenue?
 NHS England wants to ensure that where it continues to pay contractors to provide essential care during the crisis, those contractors do not also   receive a separate contribution from general Government financial support which directly covers the cost of providing essential GOS – in other   words, they do not want the Government to pay twice for the same thing. 
 
 If you receive general Government support while providing essential care under these arrangements, which will likely be the situation for most   practice owners, you should keep records to show that the general support is not being used to fund the costs of providing essential care, which   will be separately funded through GOS.
 
 For instance, if you are receiving payments under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, those payments would relate to staff who are currently   furloughed and therefore unable to contribute to providing essential care. Similarly, if you receive a grant under the Small Business Grant Fund or   the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund, that would relate to the retail business element of your practice and not to providing essential   care.
 
 Practical issues
 
 For guidance on the practical issues raised by the NHS England letter, including: 

  • How do I provide remote consultations? 
  • How do I provide emergency dispensing and supply? 
  • Where can I find out more about infection control to maintain my practice environment?
  • Where do I find the latest information and recommendations on Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)?
  • How can I obtain PPE? 

  Please see the COVID-19 guidance of the College of Optometrists and the General Optical Council
 
  Further questions

  Contractors and practitioners should direct further questions to their representative bodies, using the email addresses below, so that the bodies    can consolidate queries to inform more detailed guidance and FAQ resources as required:

 
 LOCs can also raise LOC matters via LOCSU by emailing info@locsu.co.uk where they will be fed into the central process.
 
 The Optometric Fees Negotiating Committee
 The Optical Fees Negotiating Committee (OFNC) is the national negotiating body for eye care in the UK and 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.

                                        OFNC Statement: COVID-19 – NHS guidance for optical practices in England                                                    

1 April 2020

                       The announcement includes details of support payments for practices which continue to provide essential care for patients during   the COVID-19 crisis. These practices will be expected to follow guidance from the General Optical Council and the optical sector bodies on how   to provide this care safely. The support payments will be based on average past General Ophthalmic Services (GOS) payments between March   2019 and February 2020.


  The OFNC, LOCSU and others are now working urgently with NHS England to put in place local urgent and emergency care services where these do not already exist in primary eye care.

Read the letter from NHSE here in full.

 The OFNC has repeatedly called for urgent financial support to offset the catastrophic impact the crisis continues to have on optical practices, with all routine sight testing suspended in line with public health guidance and many practices being forced to close their doors.
 The primary eye care community in England has stood ready to play its full part in supporting people with essential, urgent and emergency eye care needs throughout this crisis. Today’s announcement should provide a vital lifeline so that patients continue to benefit from eye health     services. We are seeing the detail for the first time today, and the proposed stability funding appears to differ from that available in other parts of the UK in a number of ways. The OFNC will work with stakeholders to support all practices that are able to continue to offer care to their local population during the crisis. We will provide more guidance this week.

OFNC Chair Paul Carroll said:
“The crisis has placed a great burden on frontline practitioners and practices across England.
 Today’s announcement throws the sector a lifeline even though there is a lot of detail to work through. The new support must be used to help more practices keep running through this very difficult time, and to reduce pressure on GPs and hospitals.
   “We look forward to working together with the primary care optical team at NHS England to make sure practices can access support as quickly as possible.”

  The OFNC will work with NHS England to clarify these arrangements and provide further guidance as needed throughout the crisis. Contractors and practitioners should direct questions to their representative bodies, using the email addresses below, so that the bodies can consolidate queries to inform more detailed guidance and FAQ resources as required:

ABDO
general@abdo.org.uk

AOP
policy@aop.org.uk

FODO
info@fodo.com

LOCs can also raise LOC matters via LOCSU where they will be fed into the central process.

NE London LOC continue to raise matters on your behalf to LOCSU where these are fed into the central process. Email: nellocsecretary@outlook.com.


The OFNC will work in close partnership with the College of Optometrists, GOC and LOCSU to ensure all bases are covered.

The Optometric Fees Negotiating Committee
The Optical Fees Negotiating Committee (OFNC) is the national negotiating body for eye care in the UK and 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.

USEFUL LINKS

NHS England – London Region Optometry Services

T: 0203 182 4993

E: England.lon-optom@nhs.net

Website: www.england.nhs.uk and www.improvement.nhs.uk

Government advice to all citizens (includes financial information)

https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus

The College of Optometrists

https://www.college-optometrists.org/the-college/media-hub/news-listing/coronavirus-2019-advice-for-optometrists.html

The AOP

https://www.aop.org.uk/advice-and-support/clinical/clinical-governance/novel-coronavirus-covid-19-advice/common-questions-about-coronavirus

ABDO

                                                                                            https://www.abdo.org.uk/coronavirus/

GOC

https://www.optical.org/en/news_publications/Publications/joint-statement-and-guidance-on-coronavirus-covid19.cfm

Joint statement Viral Conjunctivitis and Covid-19 :

https://www.college-optometrists.org/the-college/media-hub/news-listing/viral-conjunctivitis-and-covid-19.html

  If you provide extended services through Primary Eyecare Services (PES) Currently not in the NELLOC area ,then please read their guidance here:

http://www.primaryeyecare.co.uk/covid-19-guidance.html

 If you provide extended services through Evolutio or PEC ELC, they are sending guidance directly to practices following liaison with the LOC.
Please keep us informed if we can be of any assistance as we can only raise concerns if we are made aware of them.

The NHS England SOPs for Primary care

https://www.england.nhs.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/20200305-COVID-19-PRIMARY-CARE-SOP-OPTICAL-PUBLICATION-V1.1.pdf

GOC important statements:

Joint statement with the other healthcare regulators recognising that professionals may need to depart from their usual procedures at this time https://www.optical.org/filemanager/root/site_assets/publications/covid_19/covid-19_joint_regulators_statement_-_final.pdf

Reassurance that using professional judgement we can supply spectacles and contact lenses without first requiring the patient to attend an optical       practice  
https://www.optical.org/filemanager/root/site_assets/publications/covid_19/statement_on_supply_of_spectacles_and_contact_lenses_during_covid-19_emergency.pdf

Optical Fees Negotiating Committee (OFNC). Statement 20 March:

https://www.locsu.co.uk/covid-19-ofnc-announcement-on-support-for-gos-contractors-in-england/

Social distancing

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-on-social-distancing-and-for-vulnerable-people/guidance-on-social-distancing-for-everyone-in-the-uk-and-protecting-older-people-and-vulnerable-adults

Childcare for children of health & social care workers https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-maintaining-educational-provision/guidance-for-schools-colleges-and-local-authorities-on-maintaining-educational-provision

Federation of Manufacturing Opticians. 31 March.

Click here to find a temporary list of Surfacing and Glazing Labs open.

Support

This is an immensely stressful time for everyone & it is a time for the optical community to come together and take care of each-other. The LOC is here to support in any way we can.

   The LOC are keen to find out about individual challenges and worries.  We will collect feedback and channel this back to LOCSU.  The national team need to know what’s happening on the ground.  We all want to communicate the concerns of the sector back to the policy-makers at the highest level.

You may ask us  questions that we simply cannot answer, but it is still worth asking and highlighting any issues.  Knowing your colleagues are in a similar situation and you are not alone, is a comfort in itself and can help everyone.  By talking problems through, sometimes a work around or partial solution can be found.

We all want there to be a strong and capable optical sector ready for the new challenges that will emerge as we overcome this crisis.  Employing the measures above will be the foundation to ensuring we get there together.

Don’t forget we are here to support you. Please email us in the first instance including your phone contact details.

Please encourage colleagues practicing in the areas of Barking & Dagenham, Havering, Redbridge & Waltham Forest to sign up to receive LOC updates at this crucial time.

If you would like to join our proposed WhatsApp group, request this by email, including your details.

Contact us in the first instance on :nellocsecretary@outlook.com

Sincere Wishes,

Jig

Jignasa Joshi

On behalf of the team at NE London LOC

www.nelondonloc.com

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