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Optometry: improving access to clinical information

How NHS Digital's products or services can help improve the digital maturity and integration of NHS optometry services in England.


The majority of primary eye care activity in England is provided by optometrists in over 6,000 high street optical practices, conducting more than 13 million NHS sight tests across England per year and detecting any early signs of eye disease.

Primary care opticians practice through the General Ophthalmic Services contract, providing NHS sight tests and optical appliances.  Sight tests are provided on site or if appropriate at the patient’s home. Opticians can also provide private optical care to patients.  Opticians employed within Community Ophthalmology Services manage patients whose eye conditions are at low risk of progression or where patients have been discharged from secondary care and require monitoring. They also provide local services, such as the management of low-risk minor eye conditions.

The challenge - access to clinical information

In early 2021, we discussed the needs of optometry services with stakeholders from NHS England and Improvement, royal colleges, professional bodies and commissioners. We identified that many optometry services lack access to appropriate and accurate clinical information at the point of care.

We recommend - GP Connect Access Record: HTML

We undertook an options appraisal based on detailed user research, technical service design and workflow mapping to determine the best solution. From this, we identified GP Connect Access Record: HTML as the most appropriate product to provide access to the patient record for optometry at this time.

GP Connect Access Record: HTML will:

  • provide a read-only restricted view of the full GP clinical record integrated within the setting's own system (assured by NHS Digital)
  • only be used for the purposes of direct patient care
  • only be accessible for a controlled group of registered clinical staff
  • not share information identified in the system as confidential or sensitive by the GP

Benefits to optometry services

Access to clinical information via GP Connect Access Record: HTML will:

  • reduce treatment times for patients with the greatest need
  • improve the quality of referrals
  • reduce patient risk
  • increase the number of treatments offered during the initial appointment, saving patients the inconvenience of attending a follow up appointment
  • improve health outcomes for patients
  • reduce the need for phone calls to other care settings to confirm, for example, patient medication or allergies
  • save time for clinical and administrative staff

Early adopters work

Engagement with system suppliers commenced in July 2021 and implementation discussions with early adopters continues throughout Spring 2022. Further adoption is planned for this financial year.

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Last edited: 1 April 2022 1:32 pm