MECS practical assessment series planned to put profession on front foot

Plans to significantly increase the number of Minor Eye Conditions Service (MECS) practical assessments across England have been announced today. Working with LOCSU and Wales Optometry Postgraduate Education Centre (WOPEC), the College of Optometrists will run additional practical assessments to meet demand from the profession.

The College of Optometrists will now host Part 2 assessment events, increasing the number of places available to optometrists. WOPEC provides MECS Part 1 online training, which is funded by LOCSU, and will continue to work with LOCs and commissioners to run Part 2 OSCE assessments.

Katrina Venerus, LOCSU managing director, said: “The new Breakthrough Strategy for the sector aims to make MECS central to every LOC and practice around the country. For our part, as a profession, we have to push ahead and show CCGs that we have a ready and able workforce that is committed to playing a wider role within the NHS, particularly to meet the increased eye health services. We are grateful for the support from the College of Optometrists and WOPEC to help us achieve this by getting the workforce on the front foot and ready to deliver these services.”

Jackie Martin, director of education at the College of Optometrists said: “The College already successfully runs large-scale practical assessments through the OSCE for the Scheme for Registration, so we have the experience and understanding to be able to offer the MECS assessment to a large number of optometrists. As well as providing a valuable service to the profession at a key time in the development of community service provision, with the MECS qualification being a first step on the higher qualification ladder, we will also be looking at additional ways the College can support its members who undertake this assessment in preparation for working in community services.”

Nik Sheen of WOPEC said; “We are upscaling the number of events we provide, building on the good relationships we have formed over the last six years with LOCs and commissioners whilst seeking to develop new links for training and accreditation in other areas. Events run by the College of Optometrists will be held in Manchester and London in parallel with a programme of LOC-hosted events delivered by WOPEC. Combined, they represent a major accreditation drive to enable optometrists to be MECS-ready.”

The assessment is a practical exam in the form of five individually assessed stations. Each station lasts five minutes and will assess competencies in areas such as communication, clinical skills and data interpretation. To date, just under 3,000 optometrists have completed the MECS online training and 1,300 have undertaken the OSCE assessments. The assessment will run at centres in Manchester and London on 18 and 24 of August respectively. The price of the existing assessment will remain the same (£135).

Booking information is available on the College of Optometrists website.