Series of MECs practical assessments planned to put profession on front foot

4 May 2016

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.”

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 1300 have undertaken the OSCE assessments.

“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 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 website. For any queries, please contact the College on: 020 7839 6354.


Note to editors:

  1. The College of Optometrists is the professional, scientific and examining body for optometry in the UK, working for the public benefit. Supporting its 14,000 members in all aspects of professional development, the College provides pre-registration training and assessment, continuous professional development opportunities, and advice and guidance on professional conduct and standards, enabling our members to serve their patients well and contribute to the wellbeing of local communities.
  1. The Local Optical Committee Support Unit (LOCSU) works with the Optical Confederation to support Local Optical Committees (LOCs) across England in developing local eye health services. LOCSU helps community optometrists and opticians work with local commissioners to make community eye services accessible for patients and cost effective for the NHS. LOCs represent the interests of Optometrists, Dispensing Opticians and Contractors of Ophthalmic services in local areas.
  1. WOPEC is the first Postgraduate Education Centre for Optometry in the World, dedicated to excellence in eye care education through quality and independence. We provide a wide range of training and accreditation for companies and commissioners, postgraduate taught courses as well as short courses for optometrists and eye care professionals in the UK and Internationally.
    WOPEC is accommodated within the School of Optometry and Vision Sciences at Cardiff University and benefits from the involvement of Cardiff's internationally renowned academic staff.


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Ann-Marie Gannon, PR Manager

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