A massive 1% increase on General Ophthalmic Service fees and more !!!

GOS fees edge up 1%

A slight & rather disappointing 1% increase in General Ophthalmic Services (GOS) fees will be introduced from 1st April 2013. A 1% increase to the NHS sight test fee has been confirmed for England and Wales (from £20.70 to £20.90). The Optometric Fees Review Committee (OFRC) reached agreement with the DoH for 2013-14 fees late last week.

An identical increase for domiciliary visits in the two countries sees the fee rise to £36.82 for the first and second visit, and £9.22 for additional visits thereafter.

It was also agreed that the continuing education and training (CET) grant would increase by 2.5 per cent (from £503 to £516), while a grant for training pre-registration optometrists would also rise 2.5 per cent (from £3,245 to £3,326). Practitioners should make their claim between July 1 and October 31. The increases were exempt from the government's 4 per cent efficiency target.

OFRC chair Claire Slade said: 'We know this is disappointing. However, given the very tight envelope the government has set for public sector pay, including GOS, we have nevertheless managed to negotiate the full 1 per cent fee increase on offer, without any offsetting efficiency gains. 'As everyone in our sector knows, there is absolutely no more efficiency to be squeezed out of GOS fees.'

The committee agreed a cash-neutral change to GOS contract compliance with the NHS Commissioning Board. After a Year 1 catch-up, this would result in three yearly self-reporting by contractors against quality in optometry (QIO) Level 1 in return for much less likelihood of a visit for most practices unless they were a significant outlier, for example on complaints.

'The marginally higher increases on CET and pre-registration grant are at least some small acknowledgement of the investment the profession is making in quality and in training optometrists for the future,' added Slade.

In reality, these increases represents a small cut in real terms, with inflation currently standing at between 2.7% and 3.3%, depending on which index you use (RPI or CPI).

It has already been confirmed that NHS optical voucher values are to rise by 1 per cent.

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