All practice staff to receive priority vaccination, ABDO confirms

ABDO has written to members this week to confirm that it has an agreement throughout the UK that all optical practice staff and locums will be included in the prioritised roll-out of the Covid-19 vaccination to primary care.

Practices may expect to be contacted by local primary care teams/health boards to make arrangements, the Association said. This has already started in some areas throughout the UK and optical staff have already been vaccinated.

At the current time, and under new lockdown restrictions announced on Monday 4 January, the advice from ABDO to its members is to continue to provide needs and symptoms-led primary eyecare, in line with all other primary healthcare services, prioritising essential and urgent care whilst providing routine care where it is safe and clinically appropriate to do so. For example, this could include patients whose routine appointment was delayed during the first lockdown.

In relation to patient safety, ABDO supports clinicians being able to manage their patients eyecare using their clinical judgement.  However, members are encouraged to refer to their government’s eyecare lead’s advice, which is currently the same as specified above. ABDO will share updates if any changes are made.

ABDO also reiterated that, to date, there was no evidence of increased transmission of Covid-19 amongst those accessing or delivering frontline healthcare services.

“These national lockdowns in England and Scotland are different to the last: the increase in infection prevention and control and the use of PPE within optical practices enables the safe delivery of care.” ABDO stated. “It is our understanding that the CMO [chief medical officer] in England and Scotland will write to all clinically vulnerable patients who have been advised to shield again and we hope that all employers will support staff who are affected here.”

ABDO’s head of policy, Debbie McGill, continues to be in regular communication with all policy leads throughout the UK to support members through the pandemic as safely as possible, as well as maintaining the delivery of care.

Conversations will be taking place over the coming weeks to discuss what financial support, if any, can be made available throughout the UK in relation to the impact of the further lockdowns and tighter restrictions reducing footfall.

Members looking for individual support on any matter are encouraged to contact ABDO’s Membership team in the first instance on 01227 733 911/ 01227 733 912.