Optometry Scotland Hails New Contract
26 October 2005
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The College of Optometrists welcomes the Scottish Executive’s announcement heralding the reform of eye care in Scotland. In a statement to the Scottish Parliament today (26 October 2005) Deputy Minister, Lewis Macdonald MSP. outlined plans for the delivery of “free eye checks for all by 2007.”
The Smoking, Health and Social Care (Scotland) Bill, passed on 30 June 2005, will deliver a comprehensive reform of eye care in Scotland, legislating for a free NHS Eye Examination for every person. The new examination will provide many benefits; it will reduce inappropriate referrals to hospitals by the introduction of repeat tests and procedures and effectively paves the way for an increase in co-managed care between hospital Ophthalmologists and local community Optometrists. The reforms will reduce health inequality by providing a consistent level of care for everyone, making rural and low volume practices more viable.
Lobbying on that part of the bill relating to general ophthalmic services was done by Optometry Scotland (OS) using a small group of practitioners including Frank Munro, Immediate Past President of the College. Frank explained how the new contract would enable optometrists to manage more eye conditions in the community, as they become the first port of call for everything related to the eye. He said he was delighted to see the new contract come to fruition, adding it would lead to the development of a “world-class level of eyecare in Scotland.” He noted the new GOS contract represents “a great opportunity for the profession and demonstrates Government recognition of the comprehensive service optometrists can provide.”
Speaking after the Minister’s statement, OS Chairman Hal Rollason said: “This new contract represents the most significant change in legislation concerning the provision of eyecare in Scotland in the last 60 years, and places Optometry firmly within the NHS as the principal provider of eyecare….Tying in with other developments over the next 2-3 years, Scotland will be at the forefront of working towards the Vision 2020 statement of eliminating avoidable blindness by 2020."
“Hand in hand with the new contract, OS has negotiated and agreed a new fee structure consisting of a fee for a primary eye examination, which would cover most patient contacts, and a fee for a supplementary examination which may be needed in around 20% of cases where repeat or additional procedures may be required. I’m pleased to be able to report that we have agreed that, from April 2006, the new primary examination will attract a fee of £28.50 and the supplementary examination one of £18. These will rise from April 2007 to £36 and £21 respectively, with a further but yet to be agreed increase from April 2008. In addition, we have secured a one-off equipment grant of £8,000 per practice which will be paid to assist optometrists provide the new service.”
The Scottish Executive Health Department will provide an equipment grant and training for the time consuming and highly skilled procedures that will significantly reduce referrals to hospital for conditions that can be managed by Optometrists working in the community. An annual review will also take account of changes in technological advances and service delivery.
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