Infection Prevention & Control / PPE
Page reviewed in October 2021
For the most recent government guidance on infection prevention and control (IPC), visit this web page.
22nd July 2021 – COptom updated its Amber phase COVID-19 guidance to confirm that optometrists and other practice staff should continue to maintain comprehensive infection prevention and control procedures, including the wearing of appropriate PPE to keep patients and practice staff safe as restrictions ease across the UK.
Based on new public health evidence and government guidance, they have updated their guidance and COVID-19 FAQs. Key changes include:
- Appropriate use of disinfecting agents on surfaces and equipment.
- Safe and proportionate use of disposable PPE.
- Patient prioritisation management.
- Reintroduction of Alger brush and microblepharoexfoliation procedures.
- Managing patients without face coverings.
- Supply of contact lenses to an expired specification.
19th July 2021 – NHSE issued advice on Staff isolation: approach following updated government guidance. The joint optical bodies later produced a statement advising that isolation exemptions in England are unlikely to apply in primary eye care settings at this stage of the pandemic.
19th July 2021 – In its COVID-19 Response: Summer 2021, the Cabinet Office confirmed that: “Health and care settings will continue to maintain appropriate infection prevention and control processes as necessary and this will be continually reviewed. Guidance will be updated based on the latest clinical evidence this summer.” Until further notice, the existing COVID-19 Infection Protection and Control (IPC) guidance continues to apply in healthcare settings. All primary care contractors should continue to follow this guidance.
15th July 2021 – NHS patients, staff and visitors must continue to wear face coverings in healthcare settings. England’s Chief Nurse has reminded the public that everyone accessing or visiting healthcare settings, including optical practices, must continue to wear a face covering and follow social distancing rules. Read more here.
13th July 2021 – The College of Optometrists, ABDO, the AOP and FODO have issued guidelines on appropriate infection prevention and control measures following recent government announcements.
19th May 2021 – Following on from the advice issued on 23rd April (below), and to reinforce the need to maintain high standards of IPC during this period, the College of Optometrists have created a video highlighting key infection control standards for employers and optometrists to follow.
23rd April 2021 – Now that most optometrists and practice staff have received their Covid-19 vaccination across all of the UK, we are at a point where infection control complacency poses its greatest risk. The College of Optometrists have released a joint statement with the ABDO to urge all employers to support their clinicians and their teams to maintain the high standards of infection control procedures they have adopted throughout the pandemic.
8th April 2021 – The Government has extended the provision of free PPE to health and social care providers until the end of March 2022. For more information, including allocated order quantities see the government guidance.
PPE will be provided to all GOS contractors free of charge, via an online portal. To receive an invitation to register with the PPE portal, contractors will require an NHS mail address that’s registered with the Department of Health & Social Care (DHSC).
If your practice doesn’t yet have an nhs.net address, please use this form to apply for one. The address will then automatically be registered with DHSC.
If you, or your practice, already has an nhs.net address, you can use section 6 of the same form to register your address for access to the portal, indicating that you are happy for it to be linked to a specific contractor. Learn more about NHS mail. For enquiries relating to NHS mail, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information, including allocated order quantities see the government guidance. Enquiry line for the PPE portal: 0800 876 6802 (7 days per week, from 07.00 to 19.00). FAQs are also available after logging in to the PPE portal.
Watch a video explaining how to order PPE from the portal.
For those practices who have chosen not to take advantage of the PPE portal, Primary Eyecare Services has recommended the Greenmaple online shop, for low cost PPE items. ABDO also has a list of PPE suppliers.
Useful sources of information
ABDO has advice on PPE.
The College of Optometrists website has a comprehensive PPE section.
The AOP Infection control and prevention course 2021 is now available for all to view. AOP members will be able to gain 1 CET point and a certificate.
NHS England – East of England hosted a webinar on infection prevention and control, which covers many of the questions which people have had. Watch the recording here or download the presentation here.
Further guidance on PPE is available from the AOP (members only.
FODO has a Primary Eyecare Framework for Covid-19. Find this and other FODO Covid-19 resources, including ‘PPE at a glance’ on the FODO website.
The BCLA has produced a number of guidance documents specific to contact lens practice.
PPE videos from Alcon are available through the BCLA.
DHSC has issued guidance for the public on Face coverings: when to wear one.
Public Health England has issued new recommendations for primary and community health care providers in England, including information on the use of face coverings by clinical and non-clinical healthcare staff.
WHO has produced lots of information about the wearing of face masks.
Optometrists can approach Local Resilience Forums (LRFs) to obtain clear face masks to assist in communication with people with hearing loss or others who rely on facial expressions. The LRF for Bucks & MK is Thames Valley http://thamesvalleylrf.org.uk/.
Guidance on the use and disinfection of visual field screeners.
Commonly asked questions and answers about UV-C disinfection.
Testing for Covid-19
Lateral flow tests (for asymptomatic people) and PCR tests (for those with symptoms or with a positive lateral flow test result) are now freely available.
This NHS resource explains the difference between the types of tests, who should have them and how to get them.
The government has advice on NHS Test & Trace in the workplace, including what to do if a colleague tests positive.
FAQs for lateral flow testing of primary care providers are available. Note that these were written before the tests were widely available but many of the questions are still relevant.