LOCs were established by the NHS (Amendment) Act 1949 as the optical Local Representative Committee (LRC) whose primary care counterparts are Local Medical Committees, Local Pharmaceutical Committees and Local Dentistry Committees. Therefore, they are bodies created by statute and have an important and defined legislative role.
LOCs represent the interests and raise awareness of the roles of NHS optical contractors and performers within defined geographical areas. They are funded by a statutory levy on NHS GOS sight tests in their localities and meet regularly, including an annual AGM. Private-only optical businesses cannot be represented by the LOC as these businesses are not included within legislation nor are they financial contributors to the LOC. A well-run LOC is a major asset to the local optical community, the NHS and local authorities, and the public alike.
LOCs fulfill a number of important functions:
- Informing, advising and negotiating with important organisations such as the commissioners of General Ophthalmic Services (GOS) and extended primary eyecare services.
- Engaging with Primary Care Support England (PCSE) on payment matters relating to the LOC and supporting local contractors and performers with payment issues
- Facilitating and encouraging local contractors and performers to formulate collective views
- Disseminating information among local contractors and performers to help them to understand and comply with their duties. This will include up to date and accurate LOC websites and effective use of social media channels.
- Conveying the views of local contractors and performers to the national representative bodies
- Contributing to the development of national policies
- Arranging and running events for contractors and performers for education (CET) and networking and supporting training needs
- Liaising with other LOCs and LOCSU to support the LOC in developing and achieving their objectives including working with regional counterparts in LOC regional forums
- Working with non-optical organisations including LRCs, third sector, local authorities, specialist bodies such as safeguarding and falls teams, and any other body and stakeholder with relevant remits
- Working with Local Medical Committees, Local Pharmaceutical Committees and Local Dentistry Committees to ensure the role of primary care is recognised in the wider healthcare sector
Obtaining support, advice and training services from LOCSU and/or the national representative bodies and extending this benefit to the wider practice workforce in local areas.