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NHS Education for Scotland

A skilled and sustainable workforce for a healthier Scotland


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NES Optometry exists to up-skill community eyecare teams, who provide NHS care under the General Ophthalmic Services (GOS) contract, to enable them to provide high quality eyecare and to improve the ocular health of patients throughout Scotland.

What we do

One of the key recommendations arising from the Review of Community Eyecare Services in Scotland (Scottish Executive, 2006) was the requirement to set and maintain national standards that could be adapted and implemented locally.

In 2006, Optometrists agreed a new contract with the Scottish Government Health Department (SGHD) which encourages the profession to take a more active part in primary eyecare of non-sight threatening eye disease.

To deliver on these aims, we are responsible for the following areas of work:


NESGAT (NES Glaucoma Award Training) is a programme of accredited education and training in glaucoma management, delivered by NES Optometry.

Funded by the Scottish Government, this qualification allows independent prescribing optometrists in Scotland to manage discharged patients in the community

For full information, please see the NESGAT Turas Learn page.

General ophthalmic services competency certificates

We are responsible for the GOS Competency Training and Certificates.

Newly qualified optometrists who have recently completed the Objective Structured Clinical Exam (OSCE), apply here for your GOS Competency Certificate

General Ophthalmic Services (GOS) Competency Training and Assessment

If you have not provided Eyecare services in Scotland for more than two years you will be required to (re)take the GOS Competency Training and Assessment. 

Training and Assessment

The competency certificate is a statement around your competence in slit-lamp examination, biomicroscopy, visual field interpretation and contact tonometry. For more detailed information around applying for a competency certificate, please see our dedicated page on Turas Learn .

Any queries please contact

Teach and treat clinics

NES has established regional teach and treat clinics to give community optometrists the opportunity to manage and treat patients under the close personal supervision of an ophthalmologist, while at the same time providing first class patient care for patients presenting with acute eye problems. 

The training is designed to increase the optometrist's exposure to acute conditions and work through the differential diagnosis to a management plan agreed with the Ophthalmologist. 

Find out more at our dedicated Turas Learn page.

GOS mandatory training

Optometrists and ophthalmic medical practitioners working under GOS in Scotland are required to undertake annual mandatory training. 

You will find all training as well as general support on the Turas Learn NES Optometry GOS Mandatory Training page

Peer assisted learning

The PAL network is a great way to have a peer discussion meeting where you can learn and get feedback and support from your colleagues.

It is based on the ethos that peer review works best if the same group of people meet regularly to discuss cases and learn from each other’s experience. From its inception, there are now over 350 Optometrists involved.

Optometry Practice Assisted Learning (OPAL) is a new and exciting initiative designed to support and educate community optometry practice teams. The programme aims to deliver benefits to all members of the practice team and is a great way to develop and learn together. There are different training packs to choose from that cover topics which are highly relevant to optometric practice.

Get involved and find out more on Turas Learn Peer Assisted Learning

Independent prescribing

We support optometrists to undertake training to become independent prescribers. The training involves:

MSC primary care

We worked with The University of Edinburgh's College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine (CMVM) and the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh (RCSEd) to develop two postgraduate programmes in clinical ophthalmology by part-time, online distance learning which launched in September 2014.

The University of Edinburgh MSc in Primary Care Ophthalmology is aimed at optometrists, ophthalmology trainees entering specialty training, GPs, other medics and other eye care professionals. This course is also relevant to orthoptists, ophthalmic nurses and dispensing opticians seeking to advance their understanding of clinical ophthalmology.

Optical assistants

The Certificate in Optical Care Courses, originally launched in 2010, are designed for optical assistants working under the General Ophthalmic Service (GOS) contract in Scotland. These courses are designed to give optical assistants the necessary skills and knowledge to provide the best possible eyecare to every patient. 

Level 5 is an entry level qualification ideal for those who have not studied for a significant length of time, or for those that need a gentle introduction into the world of learning.

Our Level 7 course is slightly more challenging and may be progressed to upon passing Level 5. Both programmes combine distance learning with three one-day workshops which are held in April, August and November.

Partial funding for both of these courses is provided by NES and the courses are administered/provided by INSIGHT Optical Training

For more information please contact Chris Maughan at INSIGHT Optical Training on

Foundation Training Year (FTY)

In 2021, as part of their Education Strategic Review (ESR), the General Optical Council (GOC) updated their Education and Training Requirements (ETR) [PDF] for GOC-approved qualifications. Watch this short video for detail and for further information, see the GOC’s Frequently Asked Questions page.

Following the publication of the new ETR, the Scottish Government commissioned NES to support the two Schools of Optometry in Scotland in the delivery of clinical placements in the final year, to be known as the Foundation Training Year (FTY).

For more information, see the Scottish Government's letter [PDF] to the profession.


NES Optometry Turas Learn Homepage

NES Optometry GOS Mandatory Training Turas Learn page


Scottish Government Health Department (SGHD)

GOS Competency Certificate

Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU)

College of Optometrists

INSIGHT Optical Training

University of Edinburgh MSc in Primary Care Ophthalmology

National Whistleblowing Standards

Contact us

Last updated: 25/09/2020

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