Website Header - Questions

Repairing and replacing children’s spectacles

U2.8.2 Repairing and replacing children’s spectacles (2014)

A member phoned in with a query about repairing children’s spectacles. Our member had a relative, not local to her, with a child wearing spectacles; their local optician refused to change the child’s specs because he wasn’t due to have a sight test despite the child having outgrown the glasses, which were causing him considerable discomfort. She was querying if that was correct.

This certainly makes you think: what are the regulations? Since the demise of the PCT and the installing of commissioning bodies, I think we all rather wonder what is and isn’t allowed. ABDO has on its website a very informative document, ‘Making accurate claims’. This is extremely useful and although long and complex, it does answer many queries.

This particular case is slightly more complicated and requires careful consideration. The exact circumstances are unknown, but it was an interesting point.

We don’t know who said what in this particular circumstance, but I suspect the refusal may have come from a member of the support staff rather than a registered DO. We have all drilled our staff to cross-question patients as to NHS eligibility to ensure claims are not refused when submitted for payment, and some may take their instructions too literally.

You can imagine the scenario: “Wayne’s specs are cutting his ears, he needs a bigger frame”. To which the reply would be: “He’s not due for three months, there’s nothing I can do”. The parent would assume that was that and the optical assistant would not appreciate the importance of a child’s frame fitting correctly. It’s the classic breakdown in communication.

What might a registered dispensing optician have been able to offer in that situation? With the full records at their disposal, a DO could judge from the clinical notes whether a change in prescription was likely to be imminent or if, perhaps, the sight test was usually six-monthly and this was the first time a 12-month interval had occurred. Children’s growth patterns vary; mostly it goes in spurts, adding inches in weeks or no change in size at all for months.

Is it then, in your professional judgement, necessary to test the child’s sight earlier than had been recommended, as the spectacles were no longer suitable? Or is the prescription unlikely to have changed, but it is simply that the child has grown out of their frames? A conversation with the original prescriber might be useful; asking if, in the circumstances, they feel an early recheck is advisable.

If the consensus is that an early retest is unnecessary, a GOS4 can be issued to replace the spectacles that are no longer serviceable. This entire decision is for you, as the professional, to consider, putting the welfare of the patient first. Although I often find a phone call to the relevant person at the NHS, to confirm your actions is appreciated as a courtesy

#dispensing #children #repairs