Corona Virus Update

Please, find below details and links to important information in regards to the ungoing Coronavirus Pandemic.


1 April 2020

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

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:




LOCs can also raise LOC matters via LOCSU by emailing info@locsu.co.uk where they will be fed into the central process.

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.


Novel coronavirus (COVID-19) standard operating procedure

The College of Optometrists have some very good updates, with excellent FAQs:  LINK
They have also produced a well worded joint statement with the Royal College of Ophthalmologists about Viral Conjunctivitis and Covid-19 : LINK
If you provide extended services through Primary Eyecare Services (PES) then please read their guidance here: LINK
The NHS England SOPs for Primary care (link) have not changed since 5th March but expect an update any time now.  
The GOC has issued a couple of important statements:
1) A joint statement with the other healthcare regulators recognising that professionals may need to depart from their usual procedures at this time : LINK
2) Reassurance that using professional judgement we can supply spectacles and contact lenses without first requiring the patient to attend an optical practice : LINK
The main GOC Covid-19 page which references these and other statements is here : LINK
Optical Fees Negotiating Committee (OFNC) are working with NHSE on financial support and adjustment to contract requirements. Statement today : LINK.
This sector-specific advice sits on top of the Government advice to all citizens : LINK  
This advises risk groups, those over 70 and those with underlying health conditions (details on the site) to follow social distancing measures.
Social distancing is explained here : LINK
It has been announced that Schools will provide childcare (not education) for children of health & social care workers so they can continue to work.
The guidance the schools are following is here : LINK
As yet there is no clarity on whether or not optical professionals are ‘essential workers’.  For now I advise that if you can’t do without the childcare support in order to fulfil your healthcare role you should assert that you are a key worker, until we are provided with a clear position on this.   The argument is especially strong if you provide MECS which we expect to be busier than usual.  We are working on a model letter you can use to reply to schools which will come out via the optical representative organisations. 
This is an immensely stressful time for everyone;  Locums with empty diaries, practitioners working at close quarters with patients, and business owners with lost income and payrolls still to pay.  It is a time for the optical community to come together and take care of each-other and the Tees LOC are here to help and support where ever possible.
PES COVID-19 Update
Below is a recent update from PES
"As you will know from recent press announcement the UK government has significantly moved the Coronavirus management process.

In the context of the Coronavirus outbreak, ‘Primary Eyecare Services’ is working hard with all key stakeholders to ensure we have appropriate processes in place to enable safe and effective care for patients and practitioners through the locally commissioned services that we contract with optical practices to deliver.

We are publishing guidance today for all participating practices on how to manage patients who need to access particular locally commissioned services we are contracted to deliver (e.g. MECS, cataract and glaucoma pathways) for patients specifically unable to access due to self-isolation or social distancing measures as announced by the Government and NHS.

This guidance should be implemented by all participating optical practices and reviewed regularly as it is updated.

If you have any queries regarding guidance or related to the locally commissioned service please contact your local clinical governance and performance lead or email us on info@primaryeyecare.co.uk<mailto:info@primaryeyecare.co.uk>.

We would like to thank all participating optical practices for your ongoing diligence and commitment to patients as well as your own teams."

COVID-19: OFNC Announcement on Support for GOS Contractors in England

20 March 2020

The Optometric Fees Negotiating Committee (OFNC) and its members (ABDO, AOP, BMA and FODO) are working closely with NHS England on supporting GOS contractors in England through the coronavirus crisis.

NHS England has confirmed that eye care is an essential part of the NHS and primary care service, both of itself and in keeping pressure off other NHS services such as GPs and A&E. NHS England’s aim is to keep essential eye care operating as far as possible to ensure essential and urgent eye health needs are met whist protecting patients, staff and the public.

Issues that the OFNC and NHS England are urgently working on with the aim of supporting optical practices in England, include:

  • The financial implications for practices of a downturn in GOS fee income because of the crisis
  • More flexibility around GOS contractual requirements, to help practices and domiciliary providers give patients the care they need as quickly and safely as possible, and to support practices who may not have the staff available to provide services, due to illness or self-isolation
  • Guidance to help patients, optical practices and other parts of the NHS understand the GOS services that optical practices in England will continue to provide during the crisis and to direct patients to them
  • How the whole sector can work together to mobilise new services in optical practices as quickly as possible, to meet essential and urgent eye care needs during the crisis and reduce demand on GP and hospital services.

OFNC and its member bodies are working very closely with LOCSU, which is co-ordinating the sector-wide work on new services, and with the General Optical Council, College of Optometrists, Optometry Wales, Optometry Scotland and Optometry Northern Ireland and government to streamline communications and provide evidence-based advice to the front-line throughout this crisis.

We and the NHS in all countries thank you for your support to the population at this difficult time. We will share more information about these measures as soon as we can.

11 March 2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19) update


At LOCSU we are aware that there has been a range of information in circulation relating to Coronavirus and potential risks and processes for dealing with patients who may have been exposed to the virus.

It is important that all LOCs work within consistent and verified advice as such LOCSU would direct all LOCs to:

In addition, further advice can be found on government and NHS websites:


The sector bodies are now part of a weekly virtual call with NHS England and information from those will be circulated as necessary. For further LOC advice and guidance please contact your local Optical Lead.

Business Links

Please find below important business information:

Government Schools advice

Government Business Support