Service Provision During the COVID-19 Pandemic

All Routine Optical Services Are Currently Suspended

The definition of a routine service is when the patient is not complaining of any new symptoms or recent loss of sight.  This means that some practices may be closed.
In all cases patients must telephone the practice before they attend.
Optical practices can not recall patients and only ‘Essential’ eye care and ‘Urgent’ appointments can be provided.
• Essential eye care is specifically to aid the replacement of or determine the need for eye wear ie glasses or contact lenses and includes appointments for patients who would not normally be considered to be emergencies, but where, in the practitioner’s professional judgement, a delay in an examination may be detrimental to a patient’s sight or physical or mental wellbeing. This may include where patients have broken or lost their glasses or contact lenses and need a replacement pair to function.  This is the same for both GOS eligible and self-funded (private). Further guidance on what constitutes essential eye care is available from NHS England and the College of Optometrists. In May 2020, the OFNC further expanded the definition of essential to include those with risk factors that are being monitored, those with minor vision reduction, and those anxious or concerned about their vision. This has been further clarified by the AOP.
• Urgent Currently there is no NHS funding mechanism in place for urgent eye care, so patients may be charged for their consultation. This includes but not exclusive to, advice about red eye, contact lens discomfort, foreign object, a sudden change in vision, flashes and floaters which might suggest detachment etc., or where the patient has been advised to attend a practice by NHS 111 or another healthcare professional for urgent eye care.
The HES have strict rules of what is an emergency. These leave a grey area where patients don’t fall under essential care (GOS) (this is why pre-Covid Nottinghamshire LOC has been advocating a MECS service).
It has been noted that this is an issue and there is a need to stop GOS being abused

It is recommended that anything that isn’t essential care be directed to the local Emergency Eye Department (EED).
QMC – Ophthalmology Department Urgent Query Support Line

“During these exceptional circumstances the QMC Ophthalmology department have created a help line for urgent queries to support community Optometrists. If you have an urgent queries to discuss please call 0115 9249924 ext 63200 where there will be either someone to take brief details or a voicemail which will be checked during in office hours. Please ensure that you leave a contact number and the times you will be available. A Consultant Ophthalmologist will return your call as soon as possible.”
Ideally, patients should telephone their EED before attending. Optometrists/DO’s need to advise the hospital that we are sending the patients so they do not get turned away. EED departments have issued telephone numbers for practitioners and patients.
Patients can be seen privately within optical practices (and charged accordingly) but they must be made aware of the NHS funded options available to them and why they are being charged within optical practice.

Advice & Information Video On Infection Control:

HM Treasury – Budget 2020 Support for those affected by COVID-19:

Useful Links 

The College of Optometrists   Click Here

The AOP Click Here

ABDO Click Here

GOC Click Here

Opticians Stronger Together