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Developing the unit: Katrina Venerus, director of operations and commissioning for LOCSU, updates OT on the latest developments in local enhanced services.

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ONE OF the most important pieces of news affecting Local Optical Committees (LOCs) in recent months has been Local Professional Networks (LPNs). In my last update to OT readers, I promised more information on the themes emerging from the 20 or so areas which have been testing LPNs for eye health. We have now compiled the feedback from the 'early adopter' LPNs and produced a briefing for LOCs, which is available at www.locsu.co.uk. The briefing, which details the experiences of the areas where LPNs for eye health are being tested, recommends ways that LOCs can influence LPNs.

Any qualified provider (AQP)

Another development affecting LOCs has been the introduction of the 'any qualified provider' (AQP) procurement concept for the commissioning of NHS services. As many of you will know, if a service is advertised as an 'AQP tender', the service provider can be from the public, private or voluntary sector, as long as they can successfully complete the qualification process and meet the terms of the service specification.

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.

At LOCSU we have been working to build our expertise in this area in order to ensure that we can provide appropriate support to those LOCs who need to engage with the AQP process. One of LOCSU's optical leads is working closely with an LOC at the moment to use their own single-provider company to obtain AQP status. We will learn shortly whether the LOC has been successful--I will be working with the whole optical leads team over the coming weeks to use this experience to help other LOCs in a similar position.

Optometry Wales

We have been working closely with Optometry Wales (OW) over the past few months to review our support arrangements for LOCs and Regional Optical Committees (ROCs), following the introduction of the Health and Social Care Act 2012 reforms in England. The review has shown that demand for support from LOCs in England and ROCs in Wales is becoming increasingly divergent because of the very different NHS structures and commissioning arrangements in the two countries. As a result, it has been agreed that all support required by the three ROCs in Wales will be provided in-house by Optometry Wales (OW), with LOCSU focusing its support on LOCs in England. I should stress that the two organisations will continue to work closely together and take advantage of learnings from both countries. As well as day-to-day contact, the chairs of LOCSU and OW will attend the other organisation's board meetings as an observer.

Annual report

Finally, we have recently published LOCSU's annual report, which is available at the unit's website. Hard copies have also been sent to the chair, treasurer and secretary of every LOC. It is really heartening to read about the many successes achieved by LOCs in the past year.

I very much look forward to continuing to work with each committee and hope to see as many representatives as possible at the NOC on October 18-19.

Remember, whether you are attending the conference or not, you have the opportunity to submit any questions you have to LOCSU. They can be related to a specific LOC or to LOCSU's work generally.

* To submit your questions, visit http:// tinyurl.com/LOCSUquestion
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Title Annotation:UPDATES; Local Optical Committee Support Unit
Author:Venerus, Katrina
Publication:Optometry Today
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Oct 5, 2012
Words:593
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