Community Enhanced Services
Simple eye examinations just got a whole lot better, but it’s a postal lottery as to where to go. In recent times Scotland has led the way in paying a greater fee for an extended eye examination. The Scottish Health Boards have insisted on a minimum level of equipment to provide the additional services all of which fall within the trained competencies of the Optometrist.
Scotland has uniquely provided grants towards the very expensive equipment that is required to perform the service and coincidently there are no sight test fees for those resident in Scotland.
This is a fast changing sector with now many similar projects trialled successfully in Wales and being agreed locally with NHS Englands new CCG’s. The purpose in line with the NHS plan to provide services within the primary health sector and save on time in secondary care shifting access and follow up care to the High Street Optician and away from the Hospital and GPs.
These projects over the past few years have been carefully monitored and have shown to be very successful both clinically and from the patients viewpoint, with easier access and cheaper parking for the patient or their carer and much decreased waiting times both for the appointment and at the practice.
The Hospital Ophthalmologists have also been very happy with the consequences as they have received better more accurate referrals from the optometrists than they received either from self referral or from the GP. In fact GPs are now directed in many cases to refer to optometrists within their area.
Much of post surgery work is also being moved into the community where optometrists assess the results and discharge if no anomalies occur or refer if they feel a follow up appointment is necessary at the hospital.
Optometrists, trained at University and within the profession for at least 4 years, are well versed in dealing with such conditions and where responsibilities for care fall outside their normal practice they take additional top up courses before being accepted as a provider of any specific care regime.
This has meant that the Optometrist has become a highly skilled health care professional and this quality backed by new innovative clinical equipment has taken Optometry to a new level.
But for those of us not under such care how can we access this new and improved eye care? Within the PCT areas of England and Wales the Optometrists receives around £20 for a 30 minute test for an NHS sight test and on average charge around £24 for a private standard test. This test has to provide a method of detection of eye and general health problems as well as a prescription for any correction necessary. It is in fact fast becoming a standard minimal test compared to what can now be provided with the latest technology at a very high price to the Optometrist. This higher standard providing greater information about our eyes, often digitally recorded for comparison year on year will often provide a much earlier warning of eye problems to come as well as greater reassurance. It comes at an additional price which can be added to the standard NHS or private eye examination charge or sometimes can be paid for as part of a health plan.
As community enhanced services are contracted across the UK this site will publish what the services can do for you and where they exist. We will also highlight which opticians are accredited to provide these community enhanced services in your area. Click here to read about Community enhanced services and what they can do for you.