Hospital Optometrists Committee election 2022: candidates’ statements

Six candidates are standing for election to the Hospital Optometrists Committee

The AOP’s Hospital Optometrists Committee (HOC) represents and supports the interests of optometrists employed in the hospital service. It pro-actively develops good practice and seeks to maintain high standards of post-graduate education within hospital optometry. The HOC also helps support communications between hospital optometrists and other professionals.

There are currently three seats available on the HOC. The term of office of electees runs from the Hospital Optometrists Annual Conference (HOAC) in 2022 until the HOAC in 2025.

Voting opens on 12pm Tuesday 8 November. Voting closes on 5pm Friday 11 November. The results will be announced on 16 November.

To be eligible to vote, you must be: an AOP Member; and an optometrist employee of an NHS Trust, Health Authority or Health Board.

The election statements from the six eligible candidates are below.

Samuel Comely, Bristol Eye Hospital

Having worked in four prestigious hospital eye departments over a period of fifteen years I have a strong insight into the workings of the Hospital Eye Service and the demand placed upon the optometrists.

My experience in HES encompasses both large University Teaching Hospitals and smaller District General Hospitals. Along the way, I have gained experience in the many clinical skills required to be a forward-looking member of the disciplinary team. My experience encompasses core optometry services as well as extended roles including glaucoma, medical retina and cataract services. Recognising the importance of accreditation from my peers, have embarked on further qualifications and have achieved Independent Prescribing and the Professional Certificate in Glaucoma. I am currently completing the Higher Professional Certificate with a view to commencing the Diploma in January 2023.

Having completed my pre-reg within HES I am also familiar with the demands placed upon trainee and newly qualified hospital optometrists. Moreover, I have been a pre-reg supervisor to numerous trainees and gain mush satisfaction from mentoring people through what is usually a very demanding period in their lives and careers. My enjoyment of teaching is reflected in my role as a trainer and examiner for the Glaucoma Professional Certificate at Cardiff University.

I have a healthy balance of clinical expertise, mentoring, teaching and leadership experience having completed the Mary Seacole Programme achieving a Post Graduate Certificate in Healthcare Leadership. This has led to a passion for improving standards and working within a multi-disciplinary team to ensure best practices within the Hospital Eye Services.

Whilst I would have a lot to offer this role, I am also eager to develop myself further and view this as an excellent opportunity to consolidate my experience to the benefit of the wider optometry community.

Michelle Corrin, Alder Hey, Liverpool

I am an experienced Hospital Optometrist who has worked in various locations and settings over the last 14 years. I have worked for several different trusts in the midlands and have recently relocated “back home” to the Northwest of England where I am working as a Senior Optometrist at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital.

I have a broad experience of core, extended and management Optometry roles but my professional favourites are paediatrics, contact lenses, corneal clinic and eye casualty. I am an independent prescriber and have my Professional Certificate in Glaucoma.  Alongside my hospital commitments I also have experience in private practice and working with undergraduate Optometry students.

Away from work, I am an open and caring person who loves running, funk and soul, gardening, and open water swimming. Through both my professional work and personal interests I have developed excellent communication skills and can forge relationships at varying levels.

I have been to the HOAC many times but never put myself forward for the committee; I would now like to be more proactively involved in the profession and its development. I believe that connection and conversation across different hospital trusts and with community practice is vital to keep services up to date, relevant and cost effective.  Together we can learn from each other, our shared experiences can improve services for patients and practitioners.

Thomas Hamper, Manchester Eye Hospital

Serving on the Hospital Optometrist’s Committee for the last four years has been a pleasure. Having originally joined the committee in 2018, I have greatly enjoyed working with talented committee members to help guide and promote the hard-work and talent of our many HES colleagues across the UK. It’s been an honour to sit on this inspirational and influential committee and I would ask you to kindly consider offering me a second term.

In my tenure I have facilitated and hosted virtual meetings over the last two years and chaired sessions (pre-COVID!) at the wonderful Belfast HOAC. It’s a pleasure to host peer-review sessions; peer-to-peer learning is a powerful tool in healthcare and something I feel very strongly about the benefits of. I have applied this approach to the structure and running of the North-West Hospital Optometrist’s Group, which I and my Liverpool HES colleague Matt Roney has re-vivified over the last year.

Alongside these activities I work full-time at Manchester Royal Eye Hospital and am currently undertaking a part-time MSc in Advanced Clinical Practice through UCL and Moorfields. Alongside macular treatment work I take a special interest in anterior eye disease and work in corneal, cataract and contact lens clinics. Working in one of the largest full-time teams in HES gives me to opportunity to work with some fantastic colleagues and canvas a broad range of opinion on the advantages and challenges to our unique profession.

I look forward to getting back to in-person meetings and engaging in the live events we offer. I hope to bring the HOAC to the North-West and will do my utmost to use my local knowledge to inspire the committee.

Jivan Lotay, Moorfields Eye Hospital

My unique international and inter-state experience has given me the opportunity to work in various high demanding clinical situations across a diverse spectrum of social and genetic demographics. My experience as an optometrist has allowed me to travel and network with a variety of organisations with the most up-to date evidence-based practice. I currently work in an extended role capacity within the glaucoma, cataract, medical retinal, intravitreal injection and emergence clinics at Moorfields Eye Hospital. My roles within these clinics involve working to clinic protocols outside the remits of community optometry where I deliver high-quality care to patients facing wide varieties of ocular health concerns and pathologies.

My personal and professional experiences have helped me become an assertive individual with an ability to multi-task and work cross functionally with different stakeholders in order to complete tasks in a timely manner.  Working within multidisciplinary teams has allowed me to excel and demonstrate higher level communication and negotiation skills, especially at times of stress and elevated pressure. My ability to initiate, develop and implement strategic plans is also emerging and something I would like to bring to the hospital optometrist committee.

I strongly feel the importance to elevate my scope of work, not only to my clinical practices but also to integrate myself in a quality, organisational development and an educational leadership role. I anticipate this opportunity to be challenging and interesting. Nevertheless, I am confident my career position and character will drive me to achieve success in helping like-minded hospital optometrist achieve their full potential.

Martin Rubinstein, Leicester Royal Infirmary

After pre-reg at Cheltenham General I’ve been employed by six other NHS Trusts working in services of varying type and size giving a wealth of both clinical and managerial experience, which I still enjoy and continue to develop. Whilst emphasising our much-valued core skills I have worked towards extending the roles of Optometrists in secondary care with a particular personal interest in ocular surface and cornea clinics.

From my previous HOC involvement I have a proven track record contributing to the varied matters considered by the Committee, in particular content and organisation of many Hospital Optometrists Annual Conference events. I have previously served as a Department of Health National Assessor for hospital optometry posts and was also a member of the GOC Panel of Visitors.

“Many years as a Pre-registration supervisor and College of Optometrists examiner has given me broad experience in these areas; I have moved with the times with proven record inspiring younger colleagues to become involved with many areas of both clinical and professional activities.

“I remain involved with and committed to various other aspects of the profession especially education, teaching and research and in building connections between Optometry and Ophthalmology. I have recently been appointed as an Examiner by the Royal College of Ophthalmologists for the Refraction Certificate examination.

“If elected I will strive to:

  • Consolidate aims and objectives of our group at the AOP
  • Develop our clinical and managerial roles, extending our range of professional activities
  • Contribute to the spirit of co-operation between AOP, College of Optometrists and Royal College of Ophthalmologists in hospital optometry matters
  • Maintain involvement and personal contribution to a central focus of hospital practitioners to support and advise colleagues, as required
  • Progress the advancement of optometrist-led teaching and research in hospital practice
  • Act as a personal contact between HOC and Midlands HOG

Anna Warner, Gloucestershire Hospitals

I have worked in the hospital optometry service since I left university and undertook a pre reg at Oxford Eye Hospital, I continues to do sessional work whilst undertaking my PhD and since 2009 I have worked at Gloucestershire Hospitals, starting as a specialist optometrist and now for the past year taking on being the head of department.

I can’t see myself ever working anywhere other than hospital optometry. I enjoy the challenges and variety it brings and the opportunity to develop a huge range of skills and what I enjoy most is working with a large team. I am proud to lead the current team at Gloucestershire and I want to join the hospital committee to further ensure I can provide the best leadership for the team and help the AOP provide best support for hospital optometrists.

Hospital Optometry faces numerous challenges including a changing workforce with increase in part time and sessional work, competition for staff from private providers and being able to provide staff with new challenges whilst maintaining core optometry skills. I would like the opportunity to work with other hospital departments and see how they are managing the challenges and guiding the AOP to support hospital optometry. With my current role and previous experience, I believe that I would be an asset to the committee, and I think it would enable me to support my team even better.