A national model for commissioning of cataract services between community ophthalmology provider, Newmedica and the Local Optical Committee Support Unit has been unveiled which could form basis of a framework to allow NHS services, currently carried out in hospitals, to be brought back into the high street.

The agreement, announced at Optrafair, sets guaranteed follow up appointments and fixed payments for optical practices taking part in the scheme and is designed to work anywhere in the country.

Richard Whittington Locsu chief operating officer said the deal on cataract would create a model under which services for other conditions such as Glaucoma and age related macular degeneration could be offered.

‘At Locsu we are pleased to be entering the agreementwith Newmedica as it will enable Primary Eyecare Companies and practices to offer effective cataract post-operative care in a timely manner to patients in the community,’ said Whittington.

Newmedica managing director Dharshak Shah said Newmedica had a simple mission and that was to make eyecare better. ‘Eyecare services have traditionally been hospital based yet many ophthalmic assessments and treatments currently carried out in secondary care can be undertaken effectively in primary care.’

He said the agreement through Locsu would be open to all accredited optometrists. Specsavers made a major investment in Newmedica in 2016 but this agreement would be open to all types of practice. ‘This is a significant step forwards in the redesign of local eye care services that will be of benefit to patients and to practitioners,’ he added.

Whittington said there were issues around capacity and commissioning in ophthalmology but the agreement would show there was a cost effective, patient centred and efficient way of offering ophthalmology services in a primary setting. He and Darshak said they hoped to convince government and commissioners by demonstrating how this could be achieved. ‘It will offer an opportunity to redesign local services with primary care being at the heart of delivery,’ he added. He also stressed that this scheme was open to both multiples and independent so long as practitioners had the required accreditations through organisations such as Wopec. He urged all practices to get involved in their LOC and PEC and to seekaccreditation to enable them to take part in the services that would have to open up to solve the crisis facing NHS eye services.