Guidance and Advice for Orthoptists and Orthoptic Professionals
Below you will find guidance on working and keeping safe, as well as links to helpful resources and templates..
We hope you find this helpful but please do let us know if you have any specific concerns or enquiries.
We are strongly encouraging all BIOS members in patient-facing roles who are offered a COVID-19 vaccine to take it if they can. Large-scale immunisation is a vital step in the effort to control the COVID-19 pandemic and save lives.
If you’re a frontline worker, you are more likely to be exposed to COVID-19 at work. Orthoptists, orthoptic support workers and technicians, and orthoptic students working directly with patients are at much higher risk of repeated exposure to the infection. The government’s official COVID-19 guidance, known as the COVID-19 green book, makes clear that anyone working in a frontline health or care role, regardless of who for or in what capacity, is eligible for a vaccine:
“Staff involved in direct patient care […] should also include those working in independent, voluntary and non-standard healthcare settings such as hospices, and community-based mental health or addiction services. Temporary staff, including those working in the COVID-19 vaccination programme, students, trainees and volunteers who are working with patients must also be included.”
Recent Government advice makes it clear that hospital vaccination hubs are expected to be the default provider of vaccines to all health and care staff, including private and the third sector. Government guidance is being developed to clarify how private practitioners can access the vaccine and demonstrate their eligibility.
Catching COVID-19 can be serious and may lead to long term complications. These are more common in older staff or those with underlying clinical risk factors.
Protect those around you. You can have COVID-19 without any symptoms and pass it on to family, friends, colleagues and patients, many of whom may be at increased risk from coronavirus. Being healthy doesn’t reduce your risk of catching COVID-19 or passing it on.
The role of vaccinator can be undertaken by anyone who can work legally under a Patient Group Direction (PGD), which includes orthoptists.
While this is outside the scope of an orthoptist, and therefore not covered by BIOS insurance, any orthoptist undertaking this procedure would be covered by their Trust or Board indemnity and support from the HCPC, so long as the correct PGD was in place and they are trained and given sufficient resources to do this task safely. The HCPC have released statements to say they understand practitioners may be taken out of scope of practice to support the pandemic.
The HCPC has published advice for registrants on how they can support the COVID-19 vaccination programme over the four countries of the UK. Read Vaccinations: what you need to know.
Members can access more resources on the vaccination programme here.
Other Useful Links
For advice for healthcare professions in each country, follow the links below:
There is also a huge amount of regularly updated information available from the Royal College of Ophthalmologists – https://www.rcophth.ac.uk/2020/03/covid-19-update-and-resources-for-ophthalmologists/
The North West AHP Network produce a regular summary of resources for the AHP workforce, available from their website: https://www.ahpnw.nhs.uk/latest-news/422-covid-19-information-and-resources-for-ahps-latest-version-now-available
Letters and Statements
Joint letter on supporting AHPs and Support Workers across the UK during the COVID-19 epidemic [9 December 2020] – https://www.england.nhs.uk/coronavirus/publication/letter-supporting-allied-health-professionals-and-allied-health-professional-support-workers-during-the-covid-19-epidemic-in-the-uk/
Statement from UK’s Chief AHP Officers and the HCPC regarding returnees to the register [19 March 2020] – https://www.hcpc-uk.org/news-and-events/news/2020/statement-from-uk-chief-ahp-officers-and-the-hcpc/
Four-Nation statement from UK’s Chief AHP Officers on allied health professionals’ roles in rehabilitation during and after COVID-19 [18 May 2020] – https://www.england.nhs.uk/coronavirus/publication/allied-health-professionals-role-in-rehabilitation-during-and-after-covid-19/