Infection Prevention & Control / PPE


Latest Updates


1st March 2022The government has announced its decision to extend the central, free provision of all items of COVID-19 PPE to the health and care sector by up to one year to March 2023 or until the infection prevention and control (IPC) guidance on PPE usage for COVID-19 is either withdrawn or significantly amended (whichever is sooner).

The provision of free PPE will continue to have the same delivery system as is currently provided.

From April DHSC will continue to manage excess stock and NHS Supply Chain will act as an agent of DHSC to provide you with your PPE requirements.

Read the press release announcing the decision to extend.

27th January 2022  –   As England fully returns to Plan A today the current infection prevention control guidelines remain in place across all healthcare settings, including the need for universal use of face masks for staff and face masks or coverings for all patients and visitors (unless exempt) and physical distancing of at least one metre.

Communications resources to support NHS providers are available here.

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 – New face covering posters are available from: PHE; COptom and ABDO.

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 supply

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 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 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


For more information, including allocated order quantities see the government guidanceEnquiry 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

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.

Report a lateral flow test result online.

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.



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