- Firstly, dispensing opticians in their own right can be part of a local optical committee (LOC). Historically if you were a contractor or nominated person of a contractor you could participate and, in some cases, be co-opted. Due to a change in LOC Constitution by NHS England, it is recommended that a dispensing optician, regardless of employment circumstances, can be elected to the committee.
- Dispensing opticians are highly skilled optical professionals who are integral to eyecare services and recognised as providers of primary eyecare services. It is therefore essential that there is dispensing optician input to ensure as broad a spectrum of knowledge and experience is achieved within an LOC.
- The landscape of optometry and optics is changing rapidly in both primary eyecare services and with eyecare services arising in secondary care. To understand fully the activity and proposals for step-down care, the dispensing optician should be familiar with activity in their respective areas. The LOC presents an excellent opportunity to bring together many of the stakeholders to discuss current and future activity.
- From a commercial perspective, understanding how your practice can be involved and what requirements in terms of accreditation for eyecare professionals, equipment, process and compliance obligations upon the practice are required to participate.
- LOCs present an excellent opportunity to participate in CET events and in some cases CPD. It is conceivable that all eyecare professionals will be welcomed along to such events, providing excellent opportunities to mix with fellow eyecare professionals. Offer the support of ABDO CET Department. LOCs are always looking for exciting, relevant and informative CET for all professionals. As a provider, ABDO has an extensive portfolio of CET which can be accessed for this purpose.
- It’s informative and can be professionally very rewarding. Often those who are successful on LOCs are highly regarded by peers and their opinions valued at all times. If you have an idea, don’t be afraid to get it added to the agenda for discussion.
- Be a recognised ‘face’; attend meetings before joining as an observer to ensure this is for you. Often LOC chairs will be more than happy to have an informal discussion in the first instance to discuss LOC activity, objectives and aspirations.
- Always attend the AGM; this is imperative to ensure you are fully informed about activity and the direction of travel locally. Be prepared to campaign for a place on the committee as LOC members are elected. Seek help from your ABDO Regional Lead in writing such a statement. Have well-rounded ‘optical politics’ knowledge and be sure to do a lot of background reading if you aren’t up-to-date with the working of clinical commissioning groups, sustainability and transformation partnerships, devolved government policies, etc.
- Sell yourself. Dispensing opticians can bring a new viewpoint to LOCs and with the new ABDO structure in place there is a commitment to help the individual and offer advice to ensure there is a consistent, structured and achievable message regarding the role of the dispensing optician. Aim for 100% attendance and be prepared to stick your head over the parapet when the opportunity arises. Get the support of your employer if you have one, as you might need flexibility at work to attend meetings.
- Ask the LOC for the Local Optical Committee Support Unit (England) login details so you can access lots of useful information for new LOC members. Also keep your eyes open for the regularly run facilitated induction modules. This will almost certainly prepare you for the world of acronyms that you will face. You will come across quite a few!
All representative bodies such as Optometry Scotland, Optometry Wales and Optometry Northern Ireland have similar websites.
 NHS England LOC Model Constitution, November 2016
 Clinical Council for Eye Health Commissioning, Primary Eyecare Framework for first contact care, June 2016