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February 2012 - Optician News Desk

  • A week of news - refraction debate

    Much is being said about the Association of British Dispensing Opticians ideas for a refraction register. Plans were outlined in an Optician exclusive last week although it should perhaps come as no surprise that ABDO wants members to increase their scope of practice by refracting. It is even less surprising that the College of Optometrists has its hangups , as reported in this week's edition. The General Optical Council has taken more of an arms length approach to the debate, so a review of the Opticians Act does not appear likely in the short term. Meanwhile, another source of information for this news desk - The Optical Confederation - really does have its hands tied, with representatives from both sides of the coin to look out for. The question remains whether this matter is as black and white as it may seems, or whether there is a grey area to explore whereby some DOs move into refraction and some OOs migrate further towards clinical care functions. Perhaps this week's Optician Poll will shed more light on what the profession thinks. From the College's point of view though, whether ECPs are in favour or not, refraction should remain part of the full eye examination in the interests of public health - something ABDO stresses would still be safeguarded by two-yearly tests anyway. Further opposition has now been tabled by the Association of Optometrists too, meaning there is a good healthy debate underway that will continue right into March.
  • Five midweek media musings

    1. Dame Judi Dench throws water on reports she's going blind , sparking a frenzy of tweets misspelling her first name. Her story will doubtless raise the profile of AMD though, which is never a bad thing. 2. Meanwhile, Specsavers in Reading batters the opposition to win the town's annual pancake race . The multiple 'beat' opposition from Sainsbury's and TM Lewin - who got a bit shirty. 3. A multi-tasking Wirral optician helps deliver a baby during her charity trip to Africa. Not your average day on the High Street. 4. Tesco careers is tweeting its new optometry jobs , showing it will not be scared offline by the continued uproar about work experience at the retailer . Every little helps. 5. And finally, a Downing Street meeting on the controversial Health and Social Care Bill invites fans of the Bill but not critics. The optical profession is repaid for its continued loyalty by being snubbed anyway.
  • Welcome web launch

    Hats off to the the Optical Confederation for launching a new website with press releases and blogs. After all, one of the main functions of the organisation is to communicate with a united voice and the new site will collect and archive all these viewpoints in a transparent way. The web has had a profound effect on optics as contact lens and spectacle start-ups threaten High Street footfall. However, when it comes to communication the web is a strong medium and somewhere the Confederation can make itself heard to policy makers and parliamentarians. All in all this is money well spent. And so in the true spirit of the digital age, here is a link to a press release on the Confederation website about the launch of the new website itself...
  • A week of news - dim view of the NHS

    This week's big news again comes from the National Health Service, which is a treasured institution one moment and a failing one the next. On one hand, figures came out from the Macular Disease Society (MDS) showing the NHS is grossly underestimating the number of new AMD sufferers each year . While the NHS has been accounting for 26,000 cases of wet AMD per year, a new study commissioned by the MDS found it was nearly double, at 40,000. It was stressed that far more should be benefitting from treatment. Criticism of this kind is not, of course, unusual, but came in a week that the government's under-fire Health and Social Bill met further opposition that included a frenzied e-petition to scrap it altogether . And so although the NHS has its flaws there is great reluctance out there for changes that are too radical. Optician news desk was keen to find out what the optical profession thought though, and so called around the Association of Optometrists, Optical Confederation and College of Optometrists. Although cautious, their responses bucked the general trend and pointed out that new commissioners, a consistent approach to GOS and reduction in bureaucracy were all positive parts of the Bill for the profession. Recent news about the addition of an eye health indicator should also improve how AMD statistics are gathered. The Confederation added it was 'proceeding with caution' though, while hospital-based eye care professionals and those practices uninterested in offering enhanced serviced may well take a dimmer view of NHS reform. They certainly wouldn't be alone.
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  • A week of news - Health Bill, anyone?

    Normal 0 false false false MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 It has dawned upon the news desk in recent months that optics could part of what seems to be a quiet minority indifferent to the coalition government’s controversial Health and Social Care Bill. Indeed, while rising numbers come out against what they view as the privatisation of the NHS, the optical community is quite happy to stay out of it and understandably so. The controversial and emotive changes include sweeping changes in the way healthcare is commissioned, meaning practitioners stand to gain an extra source of income and utilise more of their expertise. For example, this week's edition of Optician tells the story of a grant being awarded to LOCs in South East London to pay for glaucoma referral refresher courses for practitioners in the area. Meanwhile, a straw poll by Optician Online found around 94 per cent of 32 practice voters agreed that offering enhanced services appealed to practitioners on the whole. Although such schemes do not wholly rely on the Health and Social Care Bill, practitioners would be forgiven for a having a more positive outlook towards it than the demonstrators do.
  • A week of news - peer review ahead

    Changes to the CET scheme next year are likely to include a portion of peer review points - something bound to provoke a mixed reaction from practitioners. Many have been crying out for such a move in the interests of sharing best practice and learning from their peers. However, others are less convinced about the mechanics involved and the potential awkwardness of joining a group. Nevertheless, with changes to CET slated for January 2013, some practices are already pressing forward with practice runs in preparation for the new regime. The General Optical Council will debate peer review further at its next meeting on March 22, where a unaminous decision would come as a surprise to this news desk. In the meantime, let us know what you think in this week's Optician Poll .
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