Search Legislation

Health Act 2009

Part 3.Miscellaneous

Optical appliances

56.Section 34 and Schedule 6 (repeals and revocations) amend section 180(2) of the NHS Act to omit paragraph (c) which extended eligibility for optical vouchers to persons aged 60 or over. This provision was inserted into the 2006 Act by mistake. Government policy was at the time of the 2006 Act and has continued to be that all people aged 60 and over are eligible for NHS-funded sight tests and that of these, some should also be entitled to optical vouchers, if they are on relevant income-related benefits or require a complex appliance. An optical voucher is intended to meet or contribute to the cost of optical appliances (glasses or contact lenses).

57.Section 180 was inserted into the NHS Act along with provisions to reform NHS optical services to bring them into line with the contractual framework that operates for GPs and dentists. Provisions were also inserted to give Ministers greater control over the redemption of optical vouchers. However, the Government did not intend to extend eligibility for optical vouchers.

58.In the provisions as introduced in the Health Bill 2005 the reference to optical vouchers defined eligibility by referring to an earlier clause in the bill that set out the eligibility for sight tests. Eligibility for sight tests included those aged 60 or over in view of their increased risk of eye disease. The effect of this clause was to oblige the Secretary of State to make regulations for payments for the costs of optical appliances to any person aged 60 or over – not just those in receipt of income related benefits or who require a complex appliance. That was not what the Government had intended.

59.The provisions in the Health Act 2006 were later consolidated into the NHS Act. The provisions relating to payments towards the costs of optical vouchers were consolidated into section 180 of the NHS Act and were commenced on 1 August 2008, but no regulations have been made under section 180(2)(c).

60.As it was never the Government’s intention to extend eligibility for optical vouchers the Government has taken the first opportunity after it came to light to bring forward legislation to correct this mistake. The effect of section 34 is to repeal section 180(2)(c) of the 2006 Act with prospective effect.

Back to top


Print Options


Explanatory Notes

Text created by the government department responsible for the subject matter of the Act to explain what the Act sets out to achieve and to make the Act accessible to readers who are not legally qualified. Explanatory Notes were introduced in 1999 and accompany all Public Acts except Appropriation, Consolidated Fund, Finance and Consolidation Acts.


More Resources

Access essential accompanying documents and information for this legislation item from this tab. Dependent on the legislation item being viewed this may include:

  • the original print PDF of the as enacted version that was used for the print copy
  • lists of changes made by and/or affecting this legislation item
  • confers power and blanket amendment details
  • all formats of all associated documents
  • correction slips
  • links to related legislation and further information resources