AGMS and Elections
Does an AGM have to be held, and what is its purpose?
It is strongly recommended as best practice that an AGM must be held, and all local contractors and performers must be invited to attend. AGMs are the main way the local sector holds the committee to account, as well as enabling committee members to appraise the local community of the LOC’s work in the previous year.
When should an AGM be held?
As the name suggests, Annual General Meetings need to be held once a year. Usually AGMs should be held three months after the end of the LOC financial year, but in unusual circumstances (such as COVID-19) they can be held at different times. Normally they are held physically, but during the COVID crisis AGMs were held remotely.
How do we call an AGM?
LOCs must give 21 days’ written notice of an AGM to all local contractors and performers and 42 days’ notice where postal votes are to be used. The model constitution (as agreed by the sector with NHSE-I) specifies the minimum notice period and how this should be given. This notice should explain the purpose of the AGM, give the order of business and include a reply slip seeking nominations for election to the committee.
How many people must attend an AGM?
The LOC constitution does not specify the number of attendees required for the AGM. Generally, the committee will be present, and it is a good idea to encourage your local contractors and performers to attend by combining it with a CET event and seeking a sponsor to cover the costs of the refreshments/buffet. An AGM does not need to be long and could easily be held in an event interval.
Do all committee members have to stand down at an AGM?
Under the model constitution, elected members serve for three years. However, it is best practice, in order to get an annual rotation of elected members, to divide the committee into three groups. At each AGM, a third will need to stand down. This is to allow for continuity and succession planning. There is nothing to prevent them from standing again, but they would need to be re-elected.
How are committee members elected?
Candidates being nominated for election to the local committee must be sought from both local contractors and performers, equally split if possible. Nomination papers are made available 21 days before the AGM which can be emailed and would also be found on the LOC’s website. Papers can be available for proxy voting and postal voting.
How many committee members are required?
The committee must have a minimum of six elected members and should be made up of local contractors and performers. It is usual to have a Chair, Vice-Chair, Treasurer and Secretary, in addition to other members of the committee. A typical committee has between 8-15 members. LOCs can co-opt up to three members who may or may not be local contractors or local performers and should include at least one dispensing optician to achieve a skills mix.
Can nominations for committee member roles be accepted at the AGM?
Ideally, nominations should be received in advance of the AGM, to reassure the committee that enough people will be stepping forward. However, there is nothing to prevent nominations made at the AGM from being accepted.
What happens if our chair cannot attend the AGM?
It is not a requirement that the Chair must attend the AGM; indeed, another committee member can be chosen to chair the AGM. The current Chair should always attend if possible, however. In the event of the Chair being unavailable, if the process of selecting someone to deputise for the Chair is in anyway contentious; take a formal vote, counting and recording the results carefully. It is recommended to have a Vice-Chair on your committee.
What is the LOC constitution?
This is the document that details the rules and regulations by which the LOC should be run. All LOCs must have a constitution. LOCSU offers its members a model constitution (negotiated with NHS England-Improvement) which embodies best practice for LOCs.
Regarding GOS support payments to practices, why was the June 2020 payment lower than the previous month’s payment?
The payment made to optical practices in May was for the second half of March and April combined. The payment received in June is for the month of May; hence it is lower.
There is a lot of conflicting guidance on PPE. Is it down to the practice to determine what is best or is there some “legal” steer?
Optical practitioners should consult their representative body for PPE and COVID guidance in the first instance.
Can NHSE-I teams agree a change to a contractor’s GOS service hours?
An optical practice can choose what hours they deliver GOS and have that info included in their contract, in agreement with the local NHSE-I team. Note that the GOS contract itself is a national contract and fixed clauses/content cannot be changed locally.
Should contractors sign up to the NHSE COVID-19 SOP? If not, what can they confirm back to NHSE/CCGs as regards to measures taken in practice to protect staff and patients?
At the present time, it is recommended that contractors do not send anything back to NHSE Regional Offices until further advice is given by the LOC.
If I reduce my “GOS” contracted hours will this have any effect on future support payments?
As negotiations are still ongoing it is impossible to know the outcomes and the effect a reduction in hours may have.
Will help be supplied to practices to check the “clawback” payments from the GOS grant when this is announced?
Contractors should contact their optical representative body for assistance with this (AOP, ABDO or FODO).
Is the statutory levy on GOS sight tests, which funds the LOC, a nationally agreed percentage?
The statutory (mandatory) levy on GOS (GOS1, GOS5 & GOS6) which optical practices fund their LOC with is not a nationally agreed percentage. Instead, it is suggested by the LOC and presented to the constituents at the AGM for voting with annual reviews thereafter. The LOC levy which pays for LOCSU’s work on behalf of the sector is fixed at 0.5%. Therefore, if a LOC sets its own rate at 0.8%, added to LOCSU’s 0.5%, this means that local contractors will contribute 1.3% in total to their LOC/LOCSU to fund local and national support and representation.
What is a Memorandum of Understanding?
An MoU is an agreement between two organisations. It expresses a convergence of will between the parties, indicating an intended common line of action and is often used either in cases where parties do not imply a legal commitment or in situations where the parties cannot create a legally enforceable agreement. An example is the agreement that a LOC and a PEC hold together.
Is there a limit on how long the LOC must keep their records for?
Financial records and accounts must be held for a minimum of 7 years. For other records, you are advised to keep them for as long as possible. It is preferable to store them electronically (an example would be to store on Google Drive).
Are LOCs official organisations or are they just groups of like-minded practitioners?
LOCs are official organisations referred to in statute in the NHS Act 1948. They are the optical equivalent of Local Medical Committees. Hence, the levy paid by contractors to their LOCs is mandatory.
What is Quality in Optometry (QiO)?
QiO is the LOCSU-funded and administered compliance tool for the optical sector in England. It features various checklists including ones for GOS, the NHS Standard Contract, the Data Security Protection Toolkit, and other useful functions. NHSE-I and NHS Digital rely on QiO for compliance purposes: therefore, it fulfils a vital function for contractors.
How can I get WOPEC codes?
WOPEC codes are funded by LOCSU to support optical sector learning and development. LOCs request these directly from LOCSU so they can issue them out to their practitioners. Individuals should request these codes through their LOC who can determine if this learning is required in line with the extended primary care services they have commissioned.
What work is the sector doing to support domiciliary practices in their conversations with care homeowners regarding access to patients at the present time?
This has been flagged to NHSE via one of their regional teams in the South East following a call with LOCSU optical leads. We are awaiting an answer. Meanwhile, domiciliary providers can contact the Optical Confederation Domiciliary Committee through their representative body (AOP, ABDO or FODO) for information on domiciliary provision.
What is the Data Repository?
The Data Repository is an online platform that aggregates service data to give local and national positions on a variety of key indicators including (dependent on service type) outcome, referral source, onward referral destination and more. It has proven to be a valuable tool when working with commissioners to make the case for further commissioning.
The Data Repository was kindly part funded by the Central Optical Fund as part of their work to fund projects that benefit the optical sector in England
Non-NHS Primary Care Practices and LOCs
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