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During the course of the past few months, the SAOA has been approached by a number of key role-players active within the eye care space, to partner with them in various ways. Such entities include Retina SA and Novartis (eye care awareness programmes), PPS (provision of financial services to members, sponsorships), the Axial Spondyloarthritis Association of South Africa (ASASA – awareness, education), South African Society of Physiotherapy (SASP – legal action, opposing Section 59 of Medical Schemes Act) Alcon (webinars), Bausch & Lomb (webinars). Details of the entities involved with partnership- related details will be made available to members in due course.
SAOA COMPLAINT LODGED AGAINST OPTICLEAR: GEMS RESPONSE
In March 2021, a complaint was lodged with GEMS against Opticlear for conduct regarded as unethical and/or clinically unreasonable. A response from GEMS was only received on 27 November 2021. The following highlights two responses received from GEMS.
SAOA COMPLAINT EXAMPLE 1: Certain scheme and Opticlear rules, such as general motivations for children under 9 years, or record card requests, are rules we categorically reject. Optometrists are highly skilled professionals, trained to consult with children of all ages. This rule pertaining to age, is not only an insult to the professional, but also violates the rights of children in two ways. When schemes and Opticlear, use this as an anti-fraud, waste and abuse mechanism, children’s right to health is obstructed, by delaying services due to record cards requests and or motivations. There is a further delay because, as per the Health Professions Act, Practitioners still needs to get consent from parents or guardians before sharing the child’s information.”
SCHEME RESPONSE 1: The Scheme agrees with Opticlear response: This is an over servicing protocol in place for the misuse of benefits for children under the ages of 9. This is not an industry protocol.
SAOA COMPLAINT EXAMPLE 2: Opticlear has rejected changes made to the SAOA coding rules and have, contrary to their confirmation in 2020, stuck to their outdated old rules which are in direct opposition to the new Coding rules and protocols adopted by the industry.
GEMS RESPONSE 2: The current GEMS billing rules the dispensing fee (for lenses etc.) forms part of the optometric examination pricing model, and will remain as is. No dispensing fee should be billed separately, as it has been the case.
The SAOA intends to take the matter further. To view the complaint and full response received from GEMS, click here.
NOMINATIONS - BOARD VACANCIES: 2022
In accordance with SAOA Memorandum Of Incorporation (MOI), Directors elected to the SAOA Board serve for a term of three years. Once the tenure of a Director comes to an end, the Director concerned may make himself/herself available for re-election. A Director may not serve on the Board for more than two consecutive terms. A tenure ‘year’ is ‘measured’ from one AGM to another.
At the end of the 2020/2021 financial year, the tenures of three directors comes to end, giving rise to three vacancies on the Board. Of the three Directors, Nivien Subramany is available for re-election. Nivien has served on the Board, primarily in the capacity of Finance Director but has also served on the SAOA Executive Committee as well as the Coding Committee. In her role as Finance Director, Nivien has been instrumental in ensuring the effective and efficient management of SAOA financial affairs and has contributed to the existing financial health and stability of the SAOA.
Please note that a member may nominate one nominee for each vacant position.
FIRST FIRINGS AND RETRENCHMENTS OF UNVACCINATED WORKERS IN SA
While COVID-19 vaccines are not yet mandatory in South Africa, some employers have started firing or retrenching unvaccinated employees.
Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) director Cameron Morajane has confirmed that so far, it had received 10 referrals, which have been “redlined”.
The Sunday Independent reports that last month, the Labour Department ruled that companies making COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory for staff would have to compensate their workers should they suffer side effects, illness or death from the jab.
And President Cyril Ramaphosa had said the vaccines are not mandatory.
But individual companies and establishments are formulating their own policies.
In September, Discovery, one of SA’s largest medical aid scheme administrators, said it would make COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory for all employees from 1 January 2022, to ensure staff safety. Last month mining service partner Fraser Alexander also announced a mandatory vaccination policy from 1 January, as did the University of Cape Town, which declared various restrictions for unvaccinated students who might also not be allowed back on campus from January 2022.
Then PSG chief executive Piet Mouton called for the imposition of mandatory vaccinations and in an open letter to the public, said people choosing not to be vaccinated should be denied entry to restaurants, public parks, shopping centres, airports, business and educational institutions.
However, human rights activist and lawyer Schalk van der Merwe insists that employees who reject forced vaccination from their employers are enforcing their rights and are protected by the Labour Relations Act and the Constitution. He advises employees to not accept bullying, threats, bribes, coercion, disciplinary action or suspension for exercising their human rights against forced vaccination. To read more, click here.
SAHPRA CONSIDERING PFIZER APPLICATION FOR COVID BOOSTER SHOTS
South Africans who have been vaccinated with the two-dose Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine might soon be able to get a third dose as a booster shot, possibly by mid-December.
This follows an announcement on Monday 22 November by the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) that it had received an application from Pfizer on 17 November to have booster shots administered in the country. To read more, click here.
ATTENTION: SISONKE PARTICIPANTS
The SAOA encourages all members, who have received the J&J vaccine, as participants in the SISONKE research programme, to receive their booster before the 4th wave becomes a reality. The boosters for SISONKE participants are scheduled to come to an end on 17 December 2021. For further details, click here.
SAOA OFFICE: YEAR END CLOSURE
Please note that the SAOA Office will be closed from 20 December 2021 to 2 January 2022. Members requiring driver certificates during the holiday period are advised to place orders no later than 14 December to ensure that the orders can be processed and distributed prior to the year-end closure of the office.
Lucky Nkosi and Harry Rosen will be available to members throughout the holiday season and can be contacted on 074 243 4261 or 084 482 4517 respectively