Suspend all Routine Eye Examination in England to prevent spread of COVID-19

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The classification of PANDEMIC has been in place for over a week in response to this all major health care providers have suspended all routine/non-urgent appointments leaving only emergency services (GP, Dentist, Pharmacist, Doctors).

In England we have only been advised to slightly alter current practice and use 'clinical judgement'. The GOC, CoO and NHS England have failed to put in place any serious restrictions on practice that protect patients and practitioners alike from potentially lethal exposure to COVID-19.

Our colleagues in Scotland and Wales have now suspended all routine appointments and implemented telephone triage to screen patients in need of urgent/emergency eye care. It's time we do the same! They also have implemented continued GOS payment to support practices and help navigate through this crisis.

Similar to action taken in both Scotland and Wales earlier this week to suspend all routine eye examination. NHS England has a duty of care to suspend all routine eye examinations in England with immediate effect to protect the public and NHS practitioners and support staff from the current COVID-19 pandemic. 

Optometrists, Dispensing Opticians, Contact Lens Opticians, Pre-registration Optometrists, Student Optometrists and Optical Support Staff from across the sector feel that the General Optical Council (GOC) has given poor and unclear guidance and lack of communication in measures to protect the public which is their duty as our regulator. 

Additionally we feel that our professional bodies (The College of Optometrists and Association of Optometrists) have communicated poorly regarding guidance and safety in practice and offered little in the way of support for distressed members in these difficult times.

The largest multiple practices are trying to deliver business as usual during this pandemic for monetary gains at the risk of the public. This goes in complete opposition to the moral code of conduct as Optometrists, Dispensing Opticians and Contact Lens Opticians. They're putting profits ahead of peoples safety by not limiting public exposure to others and the deadly virus. As England heads toward complete lockdown, by not limiting appointment availability to urgent/emergency only but instead acting like 'business as usual' spreads the message to everyone that going outside is an acceptable thing to do. The large multiples can't justify putting these measures in place as it is too much of a financial loss so NHS England must do it for them. 

 As the country follows the same trajectory as Italy we should be using every means possible to prevent the spread of this deadly virus and loss of life due to this pandemic. 

As a profession we must act now before it is too late!

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