LOCSU Company Model unlocks the door to AQP single provider status and more Community Eye Care services across England.

10 December 2012

10 December 2012
Community eye care services in England have taken a significant leap forward with the news that Cheshire Local Optical Committee (LOC) is the second LOC to successfully complete an NHS Any Qualified Provider (AQP) procurement application in as many months. Using the Local Optical Committee Support Unit (LOCSU) Company set up for each LOC proved critical in securing Any Qualified Provider (AQP) status for Cheshire LOC and previously for Stockport LOC.  For both LOCs, the AQP status for their LOC companies also means that they are now in strong position to bid for further community services contracts in the future.  
Thanks to support,from LOCSU Optical Lead Dharmesh Patel in drafting the bid, Primary Eyecare (Cheshire) Ltd (Cheshire LOC’s company) has been awarded AQP status by the Royal Vale and South Cheshire Clinical Commissioning Groups for the provision of a community Ocular Hypertension Monitoring Service. The new service is expected to see 1000 patients per year in optical practices, who would previously have been monitored in hospital.
In October 2012, Primary Eyecare (Stockport) Ltd (Stockport LOC’s company) achieved AQP status which will allow practices in the Stockport LOC area to provide a Minor Eye Conditions Service from April 2013.  
A delighted LOCSU Chairman, Alan Tinger said:
“I can’t begin to say how pleased I am that the LOC company concept that LOCSU created to help LOCs develop new services has now taken off.  In 2008, well ahead of its time, LOCSU incorporated a separate company for each LOC in England ready for single provider commissioning. “
“AQP is a relatively new NHS procurement process for the commissioning of services.  The complex application process potential providers need to go through in an AQP procurement is difficult for individual practices to navigate . The LOC company that LOCSU set up some years ago for every LOC in England, can be now be brought to life and used as a contracting vehicle, effectively for a consortium of practices in such bids and for bids where an area -wide, single provider is specified by the Commissioners.”  
Mr Tinger added:
“The AQP process offers LOCs the opportunity to get closer to the heart of the NHS and the way that the new NHS wants to commission services.  This achievement by these two LOCs, with the support of LOCSU, also underlines to other LOCs that they shouldn’t be put off by their own perceptions of potential barriers. This is only the start as Stockport and Cheshire LOCs have shown and the sky is the limit. Working together with ophthalmologists, for example, much larger schemes can be on the radar.
“LOCSU is here to help – from providing expertise and support in establishing LOC companies to completing the AQP application process and accessing the necessary software to underpin the bid. “
LOCSU Optical Lead, Dharmesh Patel said:
“Any challenges presented by the AQP process are more than outweighed by the benefits a successful application brings to local practices. AQP Status opens the door to a better, closer relationship with local Commissioners and more community services contracts.”
LOCSU’s knowledge and expertise of the AQP process is available to any other LOC which wants to follow the example set by Cheshire and Stockport LOCs.   For more information please contact info@locsu.co.uk
Notes to editors 
In 2011 the Department of Health tasked PCT clusters and clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) with identifying three or more community or mental health services for implementation via AQP tendering in 2012 in each local area. As a result, some CCGs have started to explore models for community ophthalmology services and AQP tenders are starting to emerge.
Media enquiries: Jenny Manchester, Communications Manager at LOCSU at jennymanchester@locsu.co.uk or call 07703 677697

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