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Primary Eyecare Services progression by stealth to take over existing extended eyecare agreements comes under question.

Primary Eyecare Services progression by stealth to take over existing extended eyecare agreements comes under question.

In an open letter from the Chair of Croydon LOC (published at the end of story) criticism is laid at the door of the Primary Eyecare Services Ltd (PES) for a lack of collaboration over a procurement process that saw the very efficient and local Complete Ophthalmic Services (CIC) Ltd lose its 7-year tenure of the Croydon area contract as a community interest provider which followed the original ccg contract with individual local contractors.

Chris Kerr (Chairman) emphasises the fact that Croydon which has provided its own in-house service recognised as a highly successful operation and praised by Moorfields which it successfully integrated with in 2019 has lost the contract because of the strategic interests of countrywide growth of both Moorfields and the PES.

He also complains of a complete lack of collaboration between PES and Croydon LOC. PES is an associated company with LOCSU Holdings Ltd and shares directors and optical leads within LOCSU.

Although like all LOCs Croydon contributes to LOCSU it has always remained outside of LOCSU’s original PECS in which from its early days Croydon proved that individual LOCs could successfully work with CCGs and Moorfields without a need for a PEC provided by LOCSU.

There are other very successful LOCs who did not take on a LOCSU PEC with a nominated LOCSU member on the board.

PECS which became regionalised and later a national company in the form of Primary Eyecare Services Ltd at the behest of LOCSU have an increasing interest in subsuming other contracts.

Some LOCs have remained with a (primary Eyecare company (PEC) but remained independent of the LOCSU Holdings PES.

Both independent and individual LOC integrated service providers must fear the shadow of a takeover by procurement by PES as it must be conceived as the median plan for LOCSU/PES directors to consolidate and create a national hold on extended eye care services.

There has always been a school of thought that a national plan for community eye services governed by LOCSU does not always reap benefits for all LOCs. For example, it used to be mooted that closer understanding, local knowledge and working closely in sharing data provided better financed benefits to the practices and better focused data for the primary/secondary care professionals to share.

Central agreements, on the other hand, have a risk of lost local negotiations, dumbed down agreement levels and poorly financed agreements purely on averaging down across communities.

The questions that need to be asked is what is better for the public and the other stakeholders in the main the practices that are doing the work that has allowed this service improvement to happen in many but not all areas.

Whilst PES claims that its intention is not to make profits it has said that it intends to retain the profits to enable it to continue to develop its services and presumably enable it to spend further cash on more upcoming procurement processes. That alone will put the successful independent providers under greater strain to try to retain what their LOC members have been happy to support for many years, 11 in the case of Croydon.

We understand that when any surplus monies were made by Croydon’s CIC that its practitioners all shared in benefits such as equipment upgrades and certification. That won’t be the case going forward.

A more sanguine view would be that LOCSU’s PES will assist the weakest of LOCs by funding from those more successful. Perhaps that’s what the majority want but large corporation and business intervention has taken a hard knock in recent years because they lack flexibility and local knowledge.

What is surprising is that this change could not be resisted by Croydon. Maybe with the forthcoming legislation for new ICS in reducing the requirements to the tender processes in healthcare the changes might have saved them. But others should be aware.

Given that Moorfields had been wholly satisfied with the process they took over at Croydon from the CCG one wonders what was the catalyst for prompting change in its service provider provision other than the knowledge that both PES and it (Moorfields) has visions of country wide domination.

The letter from Croydon in Full:

Dear Colleague

Press release

Croydon LOC regrets to announce that its community interest provider company, Complete Ophthalmic Services CIC, is no longer running the Croydon Community Ophthalmology Service.

Despite running a successful service, most recently as an integrated service under Moorfields, a procurement was run in late 2020 and the contract awarded to Primary Eyecare Services (PES), a company whose only member is LOCSU. Chris Kerr, Chair of the LOC commented, “It is extremely disappointing that, having been involved in this Croydon service for over 11 years developing it into what has widely been acknowledged as an exemplar service, a decision has been made in Moorfields’ strategic interests rather than in the interests of all stakeholders in Croydon. Furthermore, I am extremely concerned at the lack of collaboration within the optical sector that has allowed this situation to arise. In the recent NHS White Paper, Government has raised concerns with regard to the competitive tendering process in the NHS. Regrettably, the Croydon Community Ophthalmology Service has become an unwitting casualty of this process”.

Yours sincerely

signed when received
Christopher Kerr


Chairman Croydon LOC


Please refer to our latest story on received complaints on non-payment/delayed from PES to practice contractors. News separately received.

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