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National Optical Conference

NOC 2020


Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the 2020 NOC was a virtual event with a series of daytime and evening sessions taking place via Zoom conferencing from Wed 25 Nov to Thur 3 Dec.

The sessions were open to all LOC members with no restrictions on numbers and there were over 350 individual participants across the 8 sessions, an increase of over 100 compared with the 2019 event.

LOCSU would like to thank all presenters and everyone who watched and participated in the Virtual NOC 2020. Thanks also go to the AOP for their help in organising the event.

A brief summary of each session is included below, with links to video recordings/presentations.

Wed 25 Nov, 6.30-8pm
National Outpatient Transformation Update

Charis Stacey, Joint Clinical Lead for Eye Care, National Outpatient Transformation Programme presented at the Virtual NOC on Wed 25 Nov along with colleague Claire Roberts, Pathway Redesign Lead for the programme.

Charis and Claire shared how the programme aims to reduce harm and sight loss and reduce hospital outpatient appointments by optimising the primary care workforce, referral filtering, risk stratification, the use of digital enablers and increased community involvement.

The programme has already developed five nationally agreed pathways (to be available soon in the Members Area) for Cataract, Medical Retina and Glaucoma, along with a national specification and protocols to support local CCGs in their rollout.

Click here to watch a recording of this session.
Click here to view the presentation from this session.

Thur 26 Nov, 1-2pm
Central Optical Fund AGM

The AGM was facilitated by Central Optical Fund director, Charles Barlow, and included updates on funded projects this year including support for the National Eye Health Week and an exciting 3D Virtual Eye Clinic initiative by Cardiff University.

The Fund is in a healthy financial position giving it a good footing to continue funding optical projects in the year ahead.

Attendees were informed of the departure of Mike Shinn who served the Fund for more than 30 years including as an initial director, as well the departure of long-serving secretary, Roy Brackley. New directors were welcomed by Charles with their early contributions praised and thanked.

The Fund, like many other organisations, has been adversely affected by COVID and is particularly grateful to those LOCs which have still been able to make contributions to the Fund this year. It is important that those LOCs which do not already make contributions to the Fund consider doing so. Without the Fund, the optical sector would lose a valuable and unique resource for whole sector improvement.

The Fund’s directors kindly ask that LOCs  and other stakeholders visit its overhauled website to find out more on its funded projects and how to donate.

Thur 26 Nov, 6.30-8pm
The Covid-19 Response

The session was hosted by Richard Whittington, LOCSU CEO, with panel representation from ABDO, AOP, FODO, GOC, LOCSU and the College of Optometrists.

The sector bodies outlined their individual and joint response to the pandemic, and there was discussion around CUES as a catalyst for change and a great example of what the sector can do when all bodies work together.

There was a collective will for greater collaboration amongst the sector bodies to benefit patients, contractors and performers.

Click here to watch a recording of this session.

Mon 30 Nov, 6.30-8pm and Wed 2 Dec, 6.30-8pm
Virtual Peer Discussion/LOCSU Clinical Pathways

The virtual peer discussion comprised several clinical cases from primary eye care practice, with each case kindly provided by various LOC members and featuring aspects of LOCSU Clinical Pathways.

The sessions encouraged reflection on how best to use extended primary eye care services to deliver excellent care to patients.

Sessions were run as multiple small groups of 8, to allow good interaction, facilitated by practitioners from LOCSU and WOPEC.

Tue 1 Dec, 6.30-8pm
LOCSU Clinical Pathway Update

The session was hosted by Zoe Richmond and Tom Mackley of LOCSU, who were joined by additional members of the LOCSU team for a panel discussion.

The session reviewed the status of the commissioning of CUES, the new COVID-19 Urgent Eyecare Pathway, and looked at the relationship between new and existing pathways and the National Eyecare Restoration and Transformation Project.

It also explored the changing commissioning context and the ways in which extended primary care services could develop in the future and updated on progress and developments emerging from the 2019 NOC.

Click here to watch a recording of this session.
Click here to view the presentation from this session.

Wed 2 Dec, 3-4pm
Student Engagement Session

This session was hosted by Richard Whittington who was joined by other members of the LOCSU team.

The discussion revealed a clear opportunity to increase knowledge and awareness of students of LOCs and the primary care landscape before they reach the workforce. LOCSU plans to facilitate links between LOCs and education departments by exploring the appointment of student liaison offers and making links with optical societies.

Students can be introduced to their LOC by emailing

Thur 3 Dec, 6.30-8pm
LOCs, LOCSU and the future

The final session of the Virtual NOC 2020 featured a presentation from Gabi Darby, NHSEI Director of Primary Care Commissioning Transformation, followed by a panel discussion with Richard Everitt and Carol Reece of NHSEI hosted by Richard Whittington.

Initial signs of Covid-19 recovery for sight testing appear to be strong. Looking to theh future, funding has been secured for digital solutions to support referral and image-sharing pathways (linked to National Outpatient Transformation Programme) and a Dynamic Procurement System (DPS) is being developed for commissioners. Following a Covid-19 shutdown, the Special Schools Eye Care Service Programme has now been reinstated.

The current NHSE Consultation on Integrating Care was discussed, with participants being encouraged to get involved and give their views. Click here for further details, resources and a link to the online survey. The deadline is Fri 8 Jan 2021.

The panel discussed the opportunity to increase consistency of extended services across England, including how LOCs and LEHNs can be more involved and influential in transforming eye health services to benefit patients, and there is a clear aspiration to have LEHN Chairs in place across country.

To round off the session, Richard Whittington outlined the work of LOCSU over the past 12 months.

Click here to watch a recording of this session.
Click here to view the presentation from this session.