Investigation into Primary Eyecare Services loss for Croydon reveals damage to practitioners and worries for other independent LOCs.
Following on from last week’s story about the loss to Croydon locality and to its LOC of the long term community ophthalmology services inaugurated and run successfully for 11 years by them we have interviewed others affected by the unwelcome changes.
The loss of the Community Eyecare Services that have been run for 11 years by Croydon LOC has caused considerable dismay amongst the practitioners who have spend many years building a truly localised and successful service to its public. The loss at procurement level to PES is more than just a loss to those practitioners own incomes but also to the professional status as a whole.
Locally the highly successful community service company (CIC) in the recent past working with Moorfields and with its original agreed protocol was acting as a gate keeper of eye care with referral and triage firmly in the hands of optometrists.
It has now in the opinion of the Croydon Chairman been transformed into a dumbed down version where Moorfields has taken back control on referrals, and accreditation with no longer a single point of access via Optometrist alone and it is believed that further access to secondary care is now available in A & E without referral/triage.
Until these changes all referrals from GPs and Optometrists were passed through the Community Eyecare service for triage and onward referral either to Optometrists or secondary ophthalmology.
Thus putting Optometry in its rightful place in control of patient flow to Moorfields.
Thus, the changes made are affecting the level of regard optometrists were held at and changing the balance once more to ophthalmology control.
Worse still they (PES) are affecting the way the service was provided to the public by virtue of diverting the cash flow away from a truly local practitioner service to Primary Eyecare Services. PES have committed to retain all surplus monies to continue to build PES development. This can only mean one thing, a gradual erosion quality of localised primary care provided for many years and reacting to local requirements in Croydon, a spokesman for Croydon LOC explained..
This is because, the loss of money has directly affected local practitioners as when they were all fully invested in the CIC scheme they shared any surplus monies in the way of grants for equipment, costs for School Screening and training.
The previous agreements also allowed payments for the use of OCTs at the optometrists discretion, now governed by a restricted set of specefic parameters; giving practitioners the option of “OCT for free” or not doing OCT at all and just referring. Another backwards step and in the words of a director of the service and an LOC member “more dumbing down of the service.”
Referring to the process of procurement in which the placeholder Complete Ophthalmic Services was removed by PES winning the contract a Croydon LOC spokesman said,” At no point did we receive any contact from PES or LOCSU to offer to work with us which put us in an invidious position of not being able to ask our Optical Lead for advice given that the same person is also a PES director. How is it that LOCSU can after receiving members fees on a regular basis as we provide in Croydon then allow a company (PES) of which many are in shared directorship bid against one of its members?
We asked what was to stop PES continuing its nationwide capture of similar independent or individual PEC services to which the reply was only to advise other LOCs in the same position never to agree to sub-contract to a hospital service.
In a quote received from a director of the Croydon service, “much has been lost in public service, including the recognisable value of optometrists in the community as well as financial subsidiarity, for no obvious gain bar control by PES.
They added , ” Although it is said that the procurement process is transparent Croydon have been told that legal processes would be required to look at the whole decision making procurement process which could cost a considerable sum which of course would be to an even greater detriment to Croydon practitioners and the public at large.
Game Over! ”
May be the Government White Paper which is beginning to see the reformation of CCGs through to ICS holds a small hope in its advice that tender and procurement processes need no longer be required where good and acceptable processes are already working or available. Too late for Croydon.
And from Daniel Waller Chairman East London, City and Islington LOC
Daniel Waller made the comment that he was very disappointed that PES with their historical links to PECs decided to bid against a successful and locally agreed and approved company providing great benefits to the local optical contractors in Croydon.
“It will be a worry for other successful and active primary care companies providing services for their local optical committees. Having been through the process of deciding on the best web-based solution for ECLOC and choosing Pharmaoutcomes, I know that we have made considerable savings on administration fees that we as a local primary eyecare company can pass on to our local members. This was not apparent in the choice that PES has made, and whose surplus funds are not to be passed back to local contractors.”
Opchat News has reached out to Primary Eyecare Services Ltd for comments on its original story published last week but has so far received no comment in return.
Stop Press: 19th May :We have just been informed that Croydon LOC have withdrawn membership from LOCSU in light of the current situation They will be notifying the Primary Care Support Services of this and asking them to arrange to cease their levy payments with immediate effect.