18 December 2020

COVID-19: Additional restrictions in Northern Ireland

We explain how the additional restrictions announced in Northern Ireland will affect optometrists.

The Northern Ireland Executive has announced a planned six-week period of restrictions, beginning on 26 December, to reduce the spread of coronavirus and alleviate pressure on the health and social care system. The additional restrictions will not impact on how ophthalmic contractor services practices currently operate. 

The Health and Social Care Board is urging contractors to continue to screen all patients using the questions set out in section 4.1 of its guidance, and reiterating the importance of reducing footfall and unnecessary travel. It also asks contractors to continue to prioritise patients based on need and, where possible, patients who enquire about routine care should be advised of the importance of reducing contact and deferring their routine eyecare until restrictions are eased. 

Check regularly for updates at hscbusiness.hscni.net and download the guidance here

Restrictions and the Scheme for Registration

If you, or your practice, is involved in helping a trainee to progress through the Scheme for Registration, please be assured that direct observation assessments can continue to take place across all four UK nations at present. Assessors are also still able to travel between areas and nations to carry out a direct observation, if necessary.

Find out more

If you would like further advice or guidance, please first refer to our comprehensive COVID-19 guidance. If you’re still unsure, please contact our clinical advice service or the education team for queries related to the Scheme for Registration. 

This article was correct at time of publication. 

Related further reading

For the very last issue of Optometry in Practice, Professor Jonathan Jackson MCOptom reflects on the past two decades of the journal and its contribution to our learning.

This paper describes how viruses infect, reproduce and damage cells. Knowing this process is critical for understanding how to treat ocular viral infections.