June 11th 2020

Understanding the Challenges Faced by Your Optician in the Present Circumstances

The outbreak of coronavirus continues to cause concern and anxiety for many of us. At the OCCS we understand that the current situation has affected nearly every walk of life and is a challenging moment for us all. In today’s blog, we provide an overview of how clients can support their opticians and what to expect during this difficult time.

Opening

Optometrists must use their professional judgement to decide whether a sight test or contact lens fit is necessary in order to supply spectacles or contact lenses. Based on guidelines from the General Optical Council (GOC) who has measures to protect the public and its registrants.

Measures include permitting optometrists to use their clinical judgement in order to decide whether a sight test or contact lens fit is necessary in order to supply patients with contact lenses or spectacles.

Optical businesses should consider posting contact lenses and spectacles to patients if there is no clinical need for them to present at practice, the GOC has emphasised.

The optical regulator emphasised that in uncertain times practitioners may be called to work at the limits of their scope of practice and vary their practice for protracted periods of time in challenging circumstances.

Urgent Care

This is a term used by the NHS in its commissioning of services and defined in its guidance on the provision of services to each country in the UK. This term was defined early on for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland in correspondence which can be accessed on the GOC’s COVID-19 page. NHS England published its own guidance letter on 1 April. In the prior absence of NHS guidance for England, the GOC has liaised with professional bodies in order to help fill the gap, which resulted in guidance issued by the the College of Optometrists. As with many elements of practice, registrants will need to exercise judgement in order to decide whether seeing a patient is essential in the circumstances of each case.

Communication

As a client, your contact time with your optician may be limited due to a reduction of opening hours, staff availability and a reduction of opening hours. Ensure that, when dealing with your opticians, to calmly and clearly communicate your questions and needs – it may be helpful to create a list of questions to email or discuss on the phone to ensure clarity of thought. It is worth understanding that there may be slower response times (emails) or busier than usual phone lines delaying an answer from your optician. When dealing with clinical issues, it may be difficult for the professional to provide clear answers without an eye examination or clinical procedure.

With the UK moving to an amber stage and heading towards a reopening date of 15 June, the OCCS would like to reiterate our support for professionals and the public during these difficult times.

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