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July 5 2012
The NHS sight test fee will remain frozen for a second consecutive year, the Department of Health confirmed today.
Payments have remained unchanged since 2010, when they rose from £19.80 to the current £20.70.
David Craig, director of operations at the AOP, expressed the Association's frustration about the lack of increase to the fee, which is reviewed in April each year.
He told OT: “For so many years we have had to live with a sight test fee that has been wholly inadequate. We understand that times are hard for everyone and that there is a programme of austerity for the whole country. But the imposition of a fee, with no agreement with the OFRC, adds insult to injury and makes a mockery of the process of negotiation. Not only is the department not helping us to start to right the injustice of the inadequate GOS fee, it is actually making the inequity worse, giving optometrists a bigger burden to shoulder.
"The profession will not be happy with this result – nor should they be.”
Despite the unchanged sight test fee, voucher values, annual CET grants and pre-reg supervisors’ payments have all risen by 2.5% this year. While practitioners will be entitled to claim back £503 in loss of earnings for education taken in 2011, pre-reg supervisors will receive £3,245 for the current year.
Chair of the OFRC, Claire Slade, said: “In line with the current public sector pay freeze, the government has once again decided not to increase GOS sight test fees. This is of course extremely disappointing; and the Department of Health has been left in no doubt about our views on the inadequacy of the sight test fee.
“That said, we have been able to influence Government to increase the GOS voucher values, which we are pleased about on our patients’ behalf; and we have still been able to negotiate a small increase in the CET and pre-registration trainers’ grants in these tough times.”
The OFRC will survey practices regarding sight test times over the coming months, in order to arm itself with data to use during its negotiations for next year’s fee.