FODO’s Friday roundup – sector news
10 July 2020
This week’s news
New workforce risk assessment for primary eye care
Don’t rely on temperature screening products, warns regulator
Planning for local lockdowns
Job retention bonus – eligibility criteria
England – NHS to check that risk assessments for staff have been carried out
Scotland – new PCA
Scotland – face coverings become mandatory
Wales – NHS video consultations extended to primary eye care
GOC statement on IPC measures during Covid-19 pandemic
Other sector news
1. New workforce risk assessment for primary eye care
FODO, the College of Optometrists, AOP and ABDO have today published a new workforce risk assessment for primary eye care.
The new guidance will help members perform a more detailed workforce risk assessment and includes templates that members can ask all staff to complete.
Read the workforce risk assessment.
FODO members should read this workforce risk assessment in parallel with our Covid-19 framework for primary eye care providers. We appreciate that implementing these measures might involve complex employment law and health and safety considerations. FODO members can email or call us on 01244 688422 for additional support.
2. Don’t rely on temperature screening products, warns regulator
The MHRA has warned that ‘temperature screening’ products are not a reliable way to detect if people have Covid-19.
Graeme Tunbridge, MHRA Director of Devices, has warned suppliers of thermal cameras not to make claims which directly relate to Covid-19 diagnosis and that they risk enforcement action if they continue to make such claims.
The MHRA also warns that temperature screening systems measure skin rather than core body temperature. However, in either case, “natural fluctuations in temperature can occur among healthy individuals”. It adds that “there is little scientific evidence to support temperature screening as a reliable method for detection of Covid-19” and other diseases which might cause a fever.
Read the full press release.
3. Planning for local lockdowns
As explained in our Covid-19 framework for primary eye care providers, we have advised members since early May to plan for scenarios in which there is a local lockdown. Following the UK’s first local lockdown in Leicester, the College of Optometrists has now issued a guidance note on how to prepare for future local lockdowns, which you can read here.
4. Job retention bonus – eligibility criteria
HMRC has confirmed the eligibility criteria of the new job retention bonus that the chancellor announced this week.
The government will pay a one-off payment of £1,000 for each furloughed employee who remains continuously employed until
31 January 2021. To be eligible, employees will need to:
Earn at least £520 per month on average for November, December and January
Have been furloughed at any point and legitimately claimed for under the coronavirus job retention scheme
Have been continuously employed up until at least 31 January 2021.
Employers can claim the bonus from February 2021 once HMRC has received accurate RTI data to 31 January.
HMRC has said more information about the scheme will be available by 31 July with full guidance expected in the autumn. We will keep members up to date with guidance when it is published.
5. England – NHS to check that risk assessments for staff have been carried out
NHE-I plans to carry out two surveys this month to check that Covid-19 risk assessments have been carried out for all staff. The surveys, with the first expected mid-July, are likely to cover ‘all staff who work in the practice’, including cleaning staff for example, but we are awaiting further detail. In the meantime, members can complete the UK wide workforce risk assessment for primary care (see update 1 above).
6. Scotland – new PCA
The Scottish Government has published PCA(O)2020(11) which reminds all providers about the 15 July deadline for submission of ‘Part 2’ payment claims for activity during Lockdown and Phase 1.
The new PCA also confirms that from Monday 13 July, members in Scotland can increase their “provision of needs-led and/or symptoms-led emergency and essential eye care, and start to meet outstanding care as capacity permits subject to certain conditions being met”.
The PCA, however, makes clear that “the provision of routine eye care in any setting” and face-to-face domiciliary eye care services remain suspended until further notice.
There is also more detailed information on financial support during phase 3, with practices continuing to receive ‘Part 1’ monthly support payments (as set out in PCA(O)2020(4)) until further notice. However, to receive this payment practices must electronically submit all GOS(S)1, GOS(S)3 and GOS(S)4 forms as set out in the 9 July PCA. Failing to comply with these requirements might result in support payments being stopped.
The Scottish Government has said it will “continue to review the appropriateness of the financial support provided to practices” based on compliance with the detail set out in this week’s PCA.
Members in Scotland should read the latest PCA in full.
7. Scotland – face coverings become mandatory
Today, Friday 10 July, unless an exemption applies, people aged five years and over will be required by law to wear face coverings in shops.
The Scottish Government has confirmed this will also apply to community optometry practice premises.
We advise members in Scotland to remind patients to attend with an appropriate face covering. The government has confirmed that if a patient arrives without the right face covering, you can provide an NHS-supplied face mask. However, it has not factored patient use of this PPE into modelling PPE demand, and therefore, excessive use of PPE by patients could result in a supply shortage at your practice.
8. Wales – NHS video consultations extended to primary eye care
On Tuesday 7 July, the Health Minister announced that following the successful use of video consultations during the pandemic there would be a pilot to trial video consultations in primary eye care.
The Welsh Government hopes that primary eye care practices “will benefit from video consultation by using it for pre-visit check-ups on a patient’s medical history”, assessing eyelids and working more closely with ophthalmologists.
9. GOC statement on IPC measures during Covid-19 pandemic
The General Optical Council (GOC) has this week published a statement on infection prevention and control (IPC) measures during the pandemic, repeating the importance of implementing standard precautions throughout the pandemic. FODO members following our Covid-19 framework do not have to take any additional action in response to this GOC statement.
10. Other sector news
The College of Optometrists has now clarified what England’s recent ‘one metre plus’ social distance advice means for optical practices. Read the College FAQ.
Primary Care Support England (PCSE) has launched a new public-facing website that will allow people to search for optometrists and OMPs on the Performers List for England. The tool also allows advanced search options and the ability to download search options as an Excel sheet. Access the tool.
The College of Optometrists has added an online catch-up with Dr Janet Pooley, Optometric Adviser to the Scottish Government and Professor Bernie Chang, President of the Royal College of Ophthalmologists, to its ‘in conversation with’ series. Professor Chang is actively supporting collaboration between primary and secondary care to meet the nation’s eye health needs.
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