Voluntary Levy Scheme
Optometry NI wish to encourage all Northern Ireland practice owners to join the CSA Levy Scheme. This Scheme helps to fund professional associations within Northern Ireland, including Optometry NI, the Northern Ireland Optometric Society (NIOS) and Local Optical Committees.
The Committee of Optometry Northern Ireland (ONI) wishes to encourage all Northern Ireland practice owners to join the CSA Levy Scheme. This Scheme helps to fund professional associations within Northern Ireland, including Optometry Northern Ireland, the Northern Ireland Optometric Society (NIOS) and Local Optical Committees (LOCs).
The Levy is calculated on the number of NHS eye examinations carried out by the practice. At present, the Levy is 1% of the total NHS eye examination fees. Currently it is collected each year, usually May or June, by a deduction from the normal monthly payment by the Central Services Agency (CSA). It will be collected monthly in the near future.
By joining the Levy, practice optometrists and dispensing opticians are deemed to be members of ONI and automatically then also NIOS. Application forms are available from the NIOS General Secretary, the CSA and through the NIOS website (www.nios.org.uk). It is envisaged that the cost of the local professional associations, in particular ONI, will require funding over the next few years. Funds will be raised by a Voluntary Levy that has existed in Northern Ireland for many years; it has also been adopted in Scotland.
The advantage of the Voluntary Levy (currently in place) is that collected funds may be used totally at the discretion of the local optometrists. From the proceeds of the Levy, a donation is made each year to the Central Fund. With a Compulsory Levy, any surplus money not used by ONI and the LOCs would automatically be forwarded to the Central Fund. Control of the Fund would be lost.
The Committee of ONI is as follows: 14 local optometrist/dispensing optician members. They are representative of the College of Optometrists, AOP, ABDO, FODO, the University of Ulster, Hospital optometry, 4 chairs of the LOCs, the NIOS and 3 elected representatives from the local profession as a whole.
ONI is a very busy working committee, who negotiates on behalf of the optometric professions with the Department of Health in Northern Ireland. It is currently working towards a new GOS Contract in Northern Ireland, following on in the wake of Optometry Scotland and Optometry Wales.
At present, any surplus funds are granted to the NIOS to fund them. The NIOS Committee is comprised of 12 local optometrists who are elected by the membership each year at the AGM. The Committee meets to organise continuous education and training events, plus social events. It responds to various communications from the national professional associations and others on behalf of the membership. On occasions in the past, the NIOS Committee has also awarded single charitable donations to local health and education centres. These donations are intended to further local optometric practices and research, and to promote better ocular health in the community.
Optometrists who are employed by practices that have not joined the Levy Scheme may join themselves. The current subscription is £100.00 per annum. Practice owners may only join by the Levy. Discussions with the multiples have proved fruitful, in that Specsavers have signed up and we are having ongoing discussions with Boots and Vision Express, etc, in the hope that they too sign up to the Levy.
ONI believes that a Voluntary Levy Scheme is the best for the profession and encourages all to subscribe. If all optometrists subscribe, then there is every possibility that it may be reduced from 1% in years to come.
It is the only fair means of funding local professional interests for the benefit of everyone irrespective of their mode of practice.
PLEASE BECOME A MEMBER BY PRINTING THE APPROPRIATE MEMBERSHIP FORMS AVAILABLE ON-LINE AND FORWARDING YOUR COMPLETED APPLICATION FORM TO Sara Ball, Admin Officer, Optometry Northern Ireland, 467 Upper Newtownards Road, BELFAST, BT4 3LJ