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Ophthalmic Medical Practitioners

What are OMPs?

OMPs are ophthalmologists who undertake NHS sight tests under the General Ophthalmic Services contract. The National Health Service (Performers Lists) Amendment and Transitional Provisions Regulations 2008[1] state that an OMP is “a registered medical practitioner” who has undertaken postgraduate training in ophthalmology. Applications to join the central list of OMPs must be reviewed and approved by the Ophthalmic Qualifications Committee following which the OMP may apply to join the ophthalmic performers’ list.

The responsibilities of OMPs in conducting NHS sight tests are the same as those of optometrists and both have an important role in the primary detection of eye disease. In the course of sight testing, symptoms and signs of eye disease may become evident and the OMP has the additional role of taking a history, conducting an ophthalmic examination as appropriate, and referring patients for further investigation and treatment where indicated.

Some OMPs also work in the Hospital Eye Service or as General Practitioners or in other health care settings.

Do OMPs need a Licence to Practise?

The GMC issued licences to practice to all doctors on their register in November 2009. Previous references to “registration” with the GMC should now be taken as implying “registration with a licence to practise”. OMPs are therefore required to maintain a licence to practise and to undergo revalidation.   The Medical Defence Union has advised the College that it would expect OMPs to be registered with a licence to practise to offer indemnity for their work.

How are OMPs connected to a designated body for revalidation?

The Medical Profession (Responsible Officers) Regulations 2012[2] did not provide for a prescribed connection between doctors on an optical performers’ list and a designated body (for instance if they were also employed by a NHS Trust), while other were not.

However, the Medical Profession (Responsible Officers) (Amendment) Regulations 2013 came into force on 1st April 2013, and these regulations connect doctors on an optical performers’ list (ie OMPs) to NHS England (previously known as the NHS Commissioning Board ) and their Responsible Officer will usually be based in the Area Team in the area in which the OMP practises.

The GMC’s website gives guidance to help doctors identify their designated body (http://www.gmc-uk.org/doctors/revalidation/12387.asp).  OMPs who have not yet made a connection are advised to approach their local Area Team in the first instance http://www.england.nhs.uk/revalidation/wp-content/uploads/sites/10/2014/03/prescribed-connections.pdf.

OMPs who have previously made a connection to a NHS trust should be aware that the prescribed connection to NHS England takes precedence over the connection to their NHS employer, and their Responsible Officer will therefore change as a result of the new regulations, even if their OMP work makes up only a small proportion of their working week.  OMPs in this situation are advised to discuss this with their current Responsible Officer.

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