The role and function of the Committee
The Committee is one of the local professional committees constituted under
the National Health Service Acts and the members are volunteers. It exists to
represent the interests of Optometrists (performers) and Contractors who practise
under a contract for services to the NHS. The Committee is required: -
1. To advise the two Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) for Shropshire on matters affecting Optometrists and Contractors providing GOS (General Ophthalmic Services) under the National Health Service; in addition certain services are provided outside the NHS contract ie community services
2. To establish the collective views of those Optometrists/Contractors, including Dispensing Opticians, on the administration of the GOS and in particular to make suggestions for their improvement, for consideration by the CCGs
3. To ensure Optometrists/Contractors are kept up to date on matters affecting the general ophthalmic services and to assist individual Optometrists and Contractors to understand and comply with the terms of their NHS contract
4. To consider any complaint made to them by any Optometrist/Contractor against any other Optometrist/Contractor practising in the county and involving the efficiency of the GOS
5. To advise the CCGs on matters affecting Optometrists and Contractors in relation to the Hospital Eye Services, the scope and efficiency of those services and the provision of these ophthalmic services at health centres, clinics etc. This will include matters such as shared care treatment provided outside the GOS contract
6. To undertake such other consultative functions as necessary from time to time, including liaison with the Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS)
The Committee's role is interpreted as including the duty to provide advice or guidance that will best serve not only Optometrists and Contractors in the County but also their NHS patients, together with the optometric profession as a whole. Committee members serve for a period of 3 years before standing down, but may offer themselves for re-election. There is also provision for members to be co-opted if required.
The Committee is also involved in promoting the role of community optometry in enhancing eye care services and making more effective use of primary and secondary care resources. In this role the LOC will put forward suggestions for developing community or co-managed services which will offer better access for patients and reduce pressures on the secondary sector. With the emphasis on patient-based care and local commissioning of services, this role is becoming more and more important and the CCGs are increasingly looking to community optometry for support in the provision of eye care services. The LOC is very clear, however, that if Optometrists or Contractors in the community are commissioned to undertake such additional responsibilities, these must be properly funded. GOS only funds an NHS sight test.
At the present time, Shropshire Optometrists provide the following community services - Pre and Post Operative Cataract Referral Refinement, Glaucoma Repeat Measures, OHT Monitoring and PEARS organised in accordance with the LOCSU Pathways, plus Children's Services to a model local to Shropshire but based on the LOCSU Pathway and designed jointly by Consultants and the LOC.
The amalgamation of areas under the NHS reorganisation of 2013 resulted in the management of Shropshire and Staffordshire by a single NHS area team. Shropshire and Staffordshire LOCs have drawn together to create an LOC Company - Primary Eye Care (Shropshire and Staffordshire) Ltd., which will organise, manage and oversee the community services which are supplied in addition to and separate from the traditional General Ophthalmic Services.
The membership of the Committee currently comprises fifteen Optometrists, Dispensing Opticians and Contractors who are under contract with the CCG to provide General Ophthalmic Services in the area.
The Committee meets six times a year at the Lord Hill Hotel, Abbey Foregate, Shrewsbury.
LOC links with other bodies
The Committee appoints representatives to serve as follows:-
Eye Care Group (Local Health Economy Eye Care Group)
The Chairman, Paul Cottrell, serves as a member of the Group, attending meetings as required.
Primary Eye Care (Shropshire & Staffordshire) Ltd. - LOC Company Board
Three members are appointed to represent Shropshire LOC.
Performance Steering Group
Two members represent the Committee on the Group which investigates matters of concern ie matters which come to the attention of the CCGs which may give rise to concern about the performance of a primary care provider - Doctors, Dentists and Optometrists/ Contractors.
A member represents the Committee on this Forum, which represents health, social services and other bodies, both public and private, with an interest in low vision ie services for the sight impaired and severely sight impaired.
Other members are appointed to represent the Committee on external bodies and committees as and when required.
Although there is as yet no formal machinery for peer review in Shropshire the Committee, whether it does this voluntarily or in response to a request by an Optometrist and/or Contractor, the CCGs or other source and whether or not the matter affects the NHS, will offer the Optometrist(s) and/or Contractor the opportunity of informal discussion where it is considered this would be in his/her/their interests. In such cases the Committee is in effect acting as an agent of the General Optical Council. Members of the Committee are appointed to do the best they can to help whatever the problem and their discussions with the Optometrist(s) and/or Contractor are entirely private and confidential.