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What's in store at the NOC? The full programme of this year's National Optical Conference (NOC), November 7 and 8, will give Local Optical Committees the support they need to respond to the new NHS, writes Katrina Venerus, managing director of LOCSU.

THE NOC has been carefully designed to appeal to anyone with an interest in developing community eye health services, whatever their level of experience. This means that its programme is very diverse. Any practitioner interested in local eye health will appreciate the opportunity to hear the latest news from expert speakers such as Dr David Geddes, head of primary care at NHS England, and Dr Waqaar Shah, RCGP clinical champion for eye health. Both presenters will share the latest news from the NHS--six months after the Government's monumental NHS reforms were implemented.

LOCSU's team of expert optical leads, based across England, will be sharing their experiences of commissioning in the new NHS, including 'Any Qualified Provider and Competitive Tender' procurements. The knowledgeable and highly skilled team of six professionals has had a significant impact on the development of community eye health services working alongside LOCs in the past 12 months. The optical leads will also use their practical knowledge of the challenges faced by many LOCs to present delegates with solutions to overcome local barriers. As well as presenting the latest theories and new concepts, the NOC is about listening to LOCs. Once again LOCSU is inviting LOCs to send in questions and comments which will be addressed by the chairman, Alan Tinger, and the managing director, Katrina Venerus, following the presentation of the unit's Annual Report. LOCSU will take action on the issues raised by LOCs--for example, following feedback at the NOC in 2012, the number of LOC representatives on the LOCSU Board was increased.

Opportunities beckon

The NOC is also an important opportunity to look strategically at the context of community eye care services in the future and the part they will play in supporting the UK Vision Strategy's objectives in terms of reducing avoidable sight loss. As well as a specific session on the future of collaborative models of shared care, there will also be the chance to hear from Anita Lightstone, interim chief operations officer at Vision 2020 UK. Ms Lightstone will provide a strategic perspective on what the recent refresh of the UK Vision Strategy means for the work of LOCs.

Similarly, influencing local public health provision is increasingly becoming an important aspect of an LOC's work--and the programme this year will present public health in a new and innovative format. As well as getting involved in an interactive exercise, delegates in this session will be able to hear from Nizz Sabir, a member of Rotherham and Barnsley LOC and part of the 2013 LOCSU leadership cohort, who will share some exciting initiatives he has worked on in Rotherham, along with a suggested template for LOCs to use to influence their local public health agenda.

As well as getting to grips with specific eye health challenges, NOC 2013 will provide delegates with a unique opportunity to network with like-minded professionals from other areas. The NOC is an important date in the calendar for LOC members to catch up with colleagues across their region, discuss the hot topics and exchange views.

A critical aspect to the NOC is making sure that the valuable information gleaned is disseminated to colleagues. As a result, at the end of the conference there is a chance to review and summarise the main messages of the event. This aim is to help delegates taking back key messages for their colleagues on their LOC.

In addition to the official programme, there is, of course, the chance to network throughout the event and celebrate the success of the profession over the past year through the AOP awards dinner. For full details of the programme, visit LOCSU's website,, and click on the NOC box on the home page.

Call for audits

The popular parallel work streams will once again be a key feature of the NOC programme. The breakout sessions consistently attract very positive feedback--delegates really appreciate the chance to get together and discuss topical issues and share learning in small groups. This year, the parallel sessions range from 'Understanding the LOC company model'--a new session to focus on the lessons learnt from early implementers--to a quickfire clinical audit session. As OT reported, this new clinical audit session will be a fast-paced breakout session, which will feature a number of five-minute presentations of audits, with a very strict 'pull the plug' cut off. If you would like to enter your audit, which can be from community (enhanced services) or personal practice, please send a 300word (maximum) abstract by 5pm on Monday August 19 to
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Title Annotation:EVENT
Author:Venerus, Katrina
Publication:Optometry Today
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jun 28, 2013
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