We recognise that there is considerable frustration at reports suggesting that some practices may be breaking national guidelines and providing routine eye care appointments that are not essential or urgent/emergency. We have raised the specific issue of the video that has been widely shared via social media of a store director saying his practice is now open for routine tests with the GOC and they confirmed that their fitness to practice team will be investigating.
National policies have made it clear that at present, practices can only provide essential and urgent/emergency eye care. This definition is open to some degree of professional judgement, to enable practitioners to act in patients’ best interests, but that does not mean business as usual.
As the COVID-19 infection rates decrease, we expect that practices across the UK will be able to see more patients. This does not, however, mean that there will be a return to routine eye care immediately. When the national policies change, eye examinations should only be provided for patients with needs or symptoms, only when PPE is available, and the College’s recommended modifications to clinical practice should be put in place.
It is up to the national health systems in each of the four nations to determine the date that policies can be changed. We recognise that the dates and levels of primary eye care that can be delivered may be different across the four nations.
We recommend that you prepare your practice for the future easing of current COVID-19 measures. To do this, we have published guidance to help you prepare in advance. We are working with national health systems across all four nations to ensure that our guidance matches each nation’s policies.