OFNC fumes at ‘derisory’ GOS fee increase

An increase in the GOS fee of 39p to £23.53 in England has been described as a real-terms cut by the Optometric Fees Negotiating Committee (OFNC).

The OFNC said the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) imposed the 1.68% increase despite the clear rejection of the offer by the sector.

From April 1, there will also be no increase in the domiciliary visiting fee, nor in the pre-registration training grant, nor in the CPD grant.

Paul Carroll, OFNC chair, said: ‘This derisory increase shows that talk is cheap. Despite effusive praise for the important role that primary eye care plays in meeting the nation’s vision and eye health needs, once again we find ourselves at the back of the NHS queue. It is hard to take seriously warm statements made by ministers when they are not backed up by action.’

During negotiations, the OFNC evidenced that the NHS paid less than 50% of the cost of a GOS sight test and proposed an increase of £2.86 to DHSC and NHS England.

It highlighted the impact of cost and wage inflation, a history of under-inflationary settlements and the impact of transport cost increases to the domiciliary sector.

The increase of 39p was based on the forecast 2024/25 GDP deflator, which the OFNC said was ‘utterly illogical’ because it ignored the supporting evidence.

Additionally, it noted the government previously refused to use the GDP deflator when inflation was increasing as it would have resulted in higher fee increases.

The 39p increase was described by the OFNC as another failure by the NHS in England to invest in eye care or the future of the sector despite multiple years’ of rhetoric about transformation.

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