36 ABDO contact lens opticians attended the first Minor Eye Conditions Services (MECS) extended services training days in Birmingham at the end of last month. ABDO has more than 130 contact lens opticians working towards MECS and Glaucoma Repeat Measures (GRM) accreditation.
Every contact lens optician training for the scheme is in the process of completing 11 WOPEC online lectures and the corresponding MCQ assessments. The courses are funded by LOCSU. Those who took part in the extended services training days had completed all the lectures and will make up the first cohort of practitioners able to offer minor eye condition and glaucoma care in areas with commissioned schemes.
Clive Marchant, president of ABDO says, “There is great pressure on our Hospital A & E departments. The provision of MECs service within primary care high street optical practices will help reduce this pressure and provide patients with minor eye conditions, an accessible local and convenient service.
“This is an exciting advancement for the profession which we must all embrace, but it is not without challenges. High street optical practices are driven by full appointment books of routine eye examinations which drive the sale of optical appliances. This model of practice must change. We must become less reliant on the sale of goods which are under increasing threat from external retailers and online services. Enhanced services must be our future direction of travel, attracting realistic remuneration, unlike our depleting NHS sight test fee.
“The numbers expected to seek MECS services are massive, no one sector can provide these services alone, all practices and their teams must be on board, this will provide an effective service and balance the percentage of MECS versus routine appointments per practice. There are approximately 1400 contact lens opticians and their entry working alongside optometrists will assist with the provision of MECS. LOCS report that 75 to 80% of patients who have already used MECS services present with anterior eye problems, all of which can be seen and assessed by CLOs. This frees up valuable optometrist appointments.”
The days consisted of lectures and practical sessions, including Anterior Chamber Assessment, Van Herick Assessment, Foreign Body removal and Goldman Intraocular Pressure Measurement. There were lectures from Nik Sheen and Sasha Macken of WOPEC and Scott Mackie of ABDO
Following the training days all those who attended will put into practice their new skills with the assistance of their optometrists in practice and ABDO regional support network groups. ABDO in conjunction with WOPEC will hold the first OSCE day late summer 2018 at its new National Resource Centre.
Commissioning for MECS is progressing across England and all new contract will embrace CLOs. As existing contracts are renewed CLOs will be included.