October 26th 2020

Update on Charging for Eye Tests

As our industry emerges from lockdown there has been an emerging trend of complaints that has certainly caught the attention of the team here at the OCCS. That of apparently compulsory charges being levied on elements that should be part of the NHS examination.

Whilst some pre examination tests may be excluded in social distancing and all clinicians will need to make individual judgements about risk versus benefit there can be no ambiguity around some of the cases we have seen.

The cause for concern revolves around a small number of consumers coming to us saying they have been told that, due to social distancing guidelines, direct ophthalmoscopy will not be performed and therefore a retinal photograph will be taken and a charge will apply.

We must remember the examination of the internal eye is a non-negotiable element of the NHS examination and as such charges in such instances should not be applied. I will leave it to you to decide if a retinal photo gives sufficient file of view to satisfy oneself of the integrity of the peripheral retina.

Whilst there has always been an ongoing debate about charges for additional tests as opposed to ‘deemed clinically necessary’ and thus integral to the NHS examination, there can be no ambiguity around charging for fundus examination for NHS patients. Such action would breach GOS contract-so please don’t do it.

Of course, there is also the bigger picture concern here of the negative impact such action has in potentially driving loyal customers into the arms of your competitors. Whilst mindful of the pressure on all P&L lines for practices at the moment, this approach is often seen as somewhat exploitative by people contacting the OCCS and may be counterproductive to practice finances in the long term.

On behalf of all of the OCCS, we wish both practitioners and clients to stay safe. Should you require any further information or wish to discuss a complaint, contact our team via 0344 800 5071 enquiries@opticalcomplaints.co.uk

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