This page shows public news of interest to BIOS members AND visitors.
  • 05 August 2011 10:09 AM | Anonymous
    Many organisations are working on this issue on your behalf including the TUC and NHS Employers.

    This week saw a statement from the TUC on where it stood on the pensions debate - see full response here: pensions final statementFINALJuly 28_2011.pdf


    Commenting on the announcement from the Treasury (above) concerning proposed increases in public sector pension contributions, TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: "Today's consultation documents reveal exactly what kind of increases could soon be hitting millions of public sector workers, when they are already in the middle of a pay freeze and facing a huge squeeze on their living standards.

    The proposed increases, along with other changes the government wants to make to public sector pensions, present the individual schemes talks with a hugely difficult agenda to address over the summer."

    NHS Employers said the following: "The Government's announcement confirms that separate scheme-specific consultations will lead to proposals being made by the end of October, on how these savings are to be achieved based on these principles.

    They also establish that there should be no increase in member contributions for those earning under £15,000 and no more than a 1.5 per cent increase in total (before tax relief) by 2014-15 for those earning up to £21,000. 

    The total increase will also be capped at 6 per cent (before tax relief) by 2014-15 for the highest earners. This amounts to a 2.4 per cent cap (before tax relief) in 2012-13 on a pro-rata basis."  Read the full analysis here http://www.nhsemployers.org/PayAndContracts/NHSPensionSchemeReview/IncreasedEmployeeContributionsForNHSPensionScheme/Pages/IncreasedEmployeeContributionsForNHSPensionScheme.aspx

    With the future of public sector pensions threatened by Government reform, over four in ten (44.9%) of all public sector workers said that they would rather their pay were cut than their pension. In advance of last month's strikes, over half (53.8%) said that they firmly believed that their benefits were worth striking over. These findings are in a new study released on 5th August by Badenoch & Clark,and it seems that public sector workers are "desperately" holding onto their pension packages in the face of ever-decreasing morale levels.

    Read the full article here:


  • 19 July 2011 10:46 PM | Anonymous

    The Department of Health has published operational guidance to the NHS setting out plans to deliver the Government’s commitment to extending patient choice of provider. The full guidance can be accessed via this link:


    The guidance has taken into account the relevant issues raised in response to the consultation, and the NHS so-called Listening Exercise. The Government's response to comments received on extending patient choice of provider (any qualified provider - AQP) has also been published. A fuller response covering all of the remaining issues and questions in the consultation document will follow later this year.

    Patient choice through the ‘any qualified provider’ scheme will be extended in a more phased way and will start in April 2012. To ensure competition is based on quality not price, the choice of qualified provider will be limited to services covered by local or national tariffs. Initially, the scheme will be extended to services where patients say they want more choice, such as community services.

    The Department also conceded there was activity where any qualified provider would never be practical or in patients’ interests, including accident and emergency and critical care. New pathway tariffs would also be developed to encourage more integrated care.

    It agreed with the Future Forum that it should introduce more safeguards against "cherry picking" of profitable cases as this could undermine services. As well as the development of currencies and limitations on the any qualified provider scheme, it will introduce additional safeguards:

    • Introduce a duty on Monitor – when setting the tariff – to ensure providers are paid fairly, taking into account the complexity of their cases (see box)
    • Work with the Royal Colleges to identify procedures most at risk of cherry picking and ensure fair prices are set for these procedures from 2013/14
    • Require commissioners to adopt best-value principles when tendering for non-tariff services, rather than simply choosing the lowest price
    • Oblige commissioners to make public any variations to national tariff prices.
    How will it affect orthoptists in clinical practice? Well, providers will have to qualify and register to provide services via an assurance process that tests fitness to offer NHS-funded services. Referring clinicians (GPs?) will offer patients a choice of qualified providers for the service being referred to - eye healthcare and treatments.

    BOS response to AQP
    AQP-BOSMember Briefing AUG2011.pdf
    This will temporarily extend the role of the SHAs who will oversee the development of patient choice of AQP by PCT clusters and clinical commissioning groups. SHAs must also assess the suitability of alternative services to those on the national list.

    Anita McCallum
    BIOS Business Manager

  • 21 June 2011 2:26 PM | Anonymous
    The UK Vision Strategy meeting was attended by Lesley-Anne Baxter, Chair BIOS and Anita McCallum, Business Manager, BIOS. There were also other BIOS members and past-honorary officers there including Lindsey Hughes, Low Vision Service Lead, from the Royal Hallamshire Hospital, Sheffield, presenting at the poster competition.

    Bob Hughes, Chair of the Eye Health Alliance, talked about sight loss set to double by 2030 and although he acknowledged that there were criticisms of the current strategy, at least he said it was " a unifying start".

    Lord Howe, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Quality (with responsibility for eye care)  started off by saying that sight was probably the sense that people feared losing the most. He reassured the audience that the Government was committed to playing its part in improving quality of life for the visually impaired. He said that local commissioning groups would be able to commisison services with groups such a optometrists working with the QIPP Rightcare programme to make best use of resources. Lord Howe mentioned an initiative in Leicesetrshire and Rutland where the "do once and share" approach was being implemented and it is hoped that this would be rolled out nationally. Pertinent to this was the development of the Eye Health Indicator to enable professionals from different specialisms to work together effectively all with a common focus and reference point.

    On a lighter note in the afternoon during a panel chaired by BBC Political Correspondent, Gary O'Donoghue, he shared an anecdote of his own experiences at an eye clinic recently and how patient records were woefully inadequate. Just wanting to get a stye removed, the health professional in the clinic wanted to give Mr O'Donoghue a full eye test. He postulated that he had been blind since birth, but the person wouldn't hear of it. In desperation he picked up a pen and stabbed himself in his artificial eye and said "Now - do you believe me!".

    NHS Alliance Chief Executive, Michael Sobanja launched new eye care commissioning guidance to aid clinical commissioning groups to provide quality, cost-effective eye care services for their patients.

    Speaking at the Vision UK 2011 conference Michael Sobanja said: "It is important to have patients right at the heart of eye care service commissioning. This new guidance will assist commissioners to improve quality of provision in a sustainable manner."

    The BIOS is delighted that Michael Sobanja has agreed to address the BIOS Managers' Forum on October 13th in Birmingham.

  • 17 June 2011 12:18 PM | Anonymous

    Responding to Danny Alexander's comments on public sector pensions today (Friday), TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: 'At such a critical time in complex negotiations this is a deeply inflammatory public intervention with a clumsy mix of announcements apparently designed to pre-empt the talks, coupled with crude threats that even worse terms might be imposed if unions refuse to acquiesce to this assault on their pensions.

    'Many of the detailed proposals set out by Danny Alexander today have not even been put to the TUC negotiators, and the government has yet to give a response to specific proposals tabled by the trade union side.

    'I have found over many years that if you are seriously trying to build trust to settle a difficult dispute you should talk honestly and openly inside the negotiating room and exercise self restraint outside.

    'This speech, and the media-spinning operation around it, has dealt a serious blow to union confidence in the government's good faith in these talks.'


    The statement is available on the TUC website here:


  • 13 June 2011 4:55 PM | Anonymous
    The results from the NHS Future Forum led by Dr Steve Field are out today.
    Latest release attached - hot off the press.

    BIOS experts are analysing full findings and will post conclusions for the NHS and orthoptists within the next 48 hours.
    NHS Future Forum Press Release 130611.PDF

  • 16 May 2011 3:52 PM | Anonymous

    THE PRIME minister visited Ealing Hospital on 16th May in a bid to help dispel concerns about plans to reform the health service. Speaking to a crowd of staff, patients and the press, David Cameron repeatedly declared his love for the NHS while stating the need for change saying: “If we don't modernise today we face a crisis tomorrow.”

    Lesley-Anne Baxter, Chair BIOS and BOS TU was part of the invited audience and writes:
    "An invitation was received last Friday 14th May  to attend a speech that David Cameron was to give at Ealing Hospital on Monday 16th May.

    This occasion was part of the listening meetings across England and the Prime Minister was introduced by Professor Steve Field, leading on this work.

    The Prime Minister used this time to reiterate his commitment to the NHS as patient centred and free at the point of delivery but also said that this would be clinician-led with GPs at the centre. He went onto say that the NHS needed to change and what he wanted was a sustainable service for the future. He also said that their was a recognition that "Any Qualified Provider" meant that training had to be undertaken and there would be no cherry picking of service provision.

    In the audience were Chief Executives from the Institute of Biomedical Scientists, the British Association of Occupational Therapists and a number of Charities and Royal Colleges as well as the Department of Health and Chief Executives from Strategic Health Authorities.

    All through the speech there was mention of doctors and nurses. In the question and answer session we were able to ask for reassurance that Allied Health Professionals would also be in a position of influence This was a good opportunity to raise the profile of Orthoptics with colleagues and officials from the Department of Health communications team. The speech will be e mailed to those in attendance but will also be on the DH website,...."

    The speech comes on the day a survey revealed 94 per cent of NHS managers believe the Government's controversial health service shake-up is 'irrelevant' and 'dangerous'. This, alongside a report from nhsManagers.net - which consulted 4,722 NHS managers and clinical leaders - found many feel reform can be achieved without 'disruptive' legislation and claim the proposals should be abandoned.

    Many hospital doctors are concerned the reforms give too much power to GPs. One clinician said: 'I just don't think GPs are ready to take this on.'

    See the full story http://www.number10.gov.uk/

  • 09 May 2011 10:03 PM | Anonymous
    On the 6th May the AHPF Board, which included representation from BIOS, was invited to participate in one of the NHS Listening Exercise events with Earl Howe (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Quality ) and Dr Kathy McLean (leading onClinical Advice and Leadership).

    Lesley-Anne Baxter, Chair of BIOS, commented on the meeting: "
    BIOS had the opportunity to raise issues such as commissioning for a small profession and the difficulties of managing the existing change agenda alongside the radical health care bill. For example, organisations appear to be using QIPP as a cost cutting exercise instead of an opportunity to raise quality and this kind of existing change agenda is having to be juggled alongside the challenges of GP-led commissioning. We also raised the issue of difficulties with not having an AHP voice at national and local level. Other professional groups (such as the Royal College of Nursing) have been invited to participate - but not AHP. This meeting sought to change that and redress the balance."

    All of the AHP twelve organisations were represented and had developed a robust message beforehand. They put the case for
    AHPs to be present at the decision making tables in their own right wherever they exist in the new structures formed. The discussion focused on the four areas identified by the Future Forum Listening Team, namely: Choice and Competition, Public Accountability and Patient Involvement, Clinical Advice and Leadership and Education and Training.

    The NHS Listening Exercise presented a major opportunity for AHPs to be empowered in the future health and social care environment and thus liberated to enhance the quality of patient care in a sustainable way. It gave us a further opportunity to reinforce the message that AHPs need to be positively included in decision making.

    The key point made was that given the important role of Allied Health Professionals in so many aspects of care including improving public health and wellbeing, reablement, management of long term conditions, providing integration across health and social care and delivering care within the education and justice contexts, the AHPF believes that the Health and Social Care Bill should be amended to ensure AHPs are represented at all levels in the new NHS structures, on the NHS National Commissioning Board, on the GP Commissioning Consortia and on the Health and Wellbeing Boards.

    Earl Howe and Kathy Mclean took on board these points and explored them further especially with regard to what specific models might be helpful in terms of decision making structures.

    Examples included the damage being done to services by the ‘salami slice’ approach to saving money, the potential fragmentation caused by Any Qualified Provider (AQP), the need for a national tariff and coding for AHP services to enable appropriate commissioning, the need to enhance and sustain self referral as a way in to the system and the importance of AHPs for patients with communication and other difficulties for whom accessing the system might be challenging.

    The NHS Listening Exercise formally finishes on the 31st May but the passage of the Health and Social Care Bill proceeds into the House of Lords for further debate and potential amendment. The AHPF and the individual professional bodies (including BIOS) will continue to engage with the process with intent to influence the final outcome on your behalf. There is still time to get engaged. Contact BIOS , the AHPF or get involved direct.

    The NHS Listening Exercise document is available at http://healthandcare.dh.gov.uk/files/2011/04/NHS-Listening-Exercise.doc

  • 06 May 2011 12:39 PM | Anonymous
    On the 14th May, BIOS moves from the CSP offices in Bedford Row into the internet revolution!

    We will conduct more business of the society by Skype, teleconference and email and, with the launch of the new website in April 2011, members can now do much more on-line (make payments for membership and book events, for example).

    Lesley-Anne Baxter, Chair of BIOS & BOS TU commented: "With this development we can ensure that the financial position of the Society is both stable and sustainable for the long term and invest monies into areas like professional development and stakeholder management. On-line and face to face training for TU representatives is also a priority along with creating events and information that support orthoptists at every stage in their professional lives - including initiatives like the Scientific Conference and Managers' Forum."

    SurveyMonkeys have recently gone out to members to further explore what priority areas currently are - if youa re a member, please do contribute and have your say at this crucial time!

    Telephone number: 01353 665541
    Email: membership@orthoptics.org.uk
    Postal address: 62 Wilson Street, London EC2A 2BU
  • 21 April 2011 10:39 PM | Anonymous

    From the Guardian 20/4/11....


    Health secretary Andrew Lansley has called for an information revolution in the NHS. He wants to make more statistics and data available to patients to help them improve choice. The idea is that publishing information on doctors' performance, surgical success rates etc will enable patients to choose which hospital or clinic they would prefer to be treated in. Critics have said that this runs the risk of breaching patient confidentiality and widening health inequalities.


    Currently, NHS services and treatments provided by hospitals and other providers are commissioned by NHS Primary Care Trusts (PCTs), acting on behalf of the GP practices in their geographical area. The reforms propose that PCTs are abolished and commissioning power is handed to consortia of GPs. Critics are concerned that under the proposed system GPs will be too powerful and too little accountable to local communities.


    The health secretary wants to give patients more choice over who provides their healthcare and what they get. The NHS has been criticised in the past for restricting patients' treatment options in a "like it or lump it approach," although Labour also developed policies which allowed patients to choose from menus of NHS and private providers. Critics say the downsides are obvious. Where market principles do not work are when elderly people suffer "chronic diseases" or patients are admitted for emergencies. They simply are not in a position to weigh up the options - and make a series of well-informed decisions about such important health needs.


    Health secretary Andrew Lansley has said that the NHS should be increasingly judged by the outcomes it achieves rather than centrally-imposed targets. Rather than simply judge performance by waiting times for treatment, or number of operations completed, success would be assessed by the how effective the treatment or operation was, and how satisfied the patient was with their care.


    Joining up medical services with other social services that work with patients. Professionals and patients have long expressed frustration that different services they are receiving don't speak to each other. This would mean, for example, a doctor who is treating a child for injuries being made aware if that child is also on social services child protection register, or ensuring that an older patient who is discharged after a hip operation receives suitable social care support in their home during the recovery period.

    More details and related information:
  • 13 April 2011 5:11 PM | Anonymous
    This month Eyes on Evidence looks at new research supporting a biological explanation for the negative correlation between UV light exposure and MS disease risk and severity. We highlight conclusions from the recently published SCAST trial which suggest that candesartan is not beneficial in patients with acute stroke and high blood pressure, and trial results for apixaban in patients with atrial fibrillation for whom vitamin K antagonist therapy is unsuitable.

    Soon Eyes on Evidence is introducing a new monthly notification service for new and significant evidence in all clinical areas and public health. We will let you know as soon as the new service is launched.

    Sign up for the monthly bulletin


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