Belfast Telegraph

Health Service Sight Tests, Vouchers and Repairs all on the rise

Stormont Executive press release - Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety

Sight tests, vouchers, repairs and replacements for glasses or contact lenses have increased across Northern Ireland’s health service between 2011/12 and 2012/13.

The Health Service in Northern Ireland provides free eye sight tests and help towards the cost of glasses to those eligible, based on their age, health related reasons or to those on certain benefits. Family Practitioner Services within the Business Services Organisation (BSO) are responsible for the payment of primary care ophthalmic practitioners and the information in this publication is based on that payment data.

Latest figures show: 

· The number of Health Service sight tests increased by 3,300 (0.8%) between 2011/12 and 2012/13 to 437,700 tests in Northern Ireland. This is equivalent to approximately 23 sight tests for every 100 people.

· The payment made for carrying out Health Service sight tests in 2012/13 was £9.1 million, a cost of £20.70 per test. 

· During 2012/13, 203,600 Health Service optical vouchers for glasses or contact lenses were processed, an increase of 5,300 (2.7%) on the previous year and at a cost of £10.3 million or £50.63 per voucher.

· 30,700 Health Service repairs or replacements to glasses or contact lenses were carried out in 2012/13, an increase of 500 (1.9%) on the previous year and at a cost of £1.0 million with an average cost of £31.88.

· In total almost £20.8 million was paid for Health Service optical work in 2012/13 an increase of 3% from 2011/12.

A spokesperson, Raymond Curran, Head of Optometry, Integrated Care Health and Social Care Board said: “The increase in the number of sight tests, vouchers and repairs over recent year’s show that patients continue to enjoy good access to eye care services. 

“A sight test is a vital health check for your eyes that can pick up early signs of eye conditions, and general health indicators, before you're aware of any symptoms – many of which can be treated if found early enough.”

Notes for editors

1. A detailed statistical report and accompanying tables are available on the BSO website at: Ophthalmic statistics are compiled from claims received and paid through the FPS Ophthalmic Payment System. The system records claims for Health Service sight tests, vouchers and repairs and automates the payment process. The system is designed to be a payment system rather than an information system and there may be anomalies in the data due to scanning errors. However where feasible quality checks have been carried out as part of the payment process and information sought from the original paper form where possible.3. All data relates to the date the claim was processed and paid on the system rather than activity date. The time periods for submission of payment claims are six months from the date of test for sight test claims and three months from the date of supply for vouchers and repair/replacement claims.4. Data includes only payments directly related to claims for sight tests, vouchers and repairs and will not include any post payment adjustments, point of dispensing fees, levies or any training fees.

5. Data excludes sight tests to prisoners in Northern Ireland.6. Population estimates and rates are calculated using the population registered in Northern Ireland for Health Service treatments at October - the mid-point for each financial year unless otherwise stated.7.Further information on entitlement to Health Service tests, vouchers and repairs in Northern Ireland can be found at:

8.Further information on the statistics provided in this publication can be obtained from the BSO Information and Registration Unit:
Responsible Statistician: Mr Sandy Fitzpatrick
Telephone: 028 9053 2965

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