26 March 2020
It was 12 February when OT published its first article on coronavirus. Little could we, or anyone, have predicted the situation that has since evolved over the last six weeks.
The story has been rapidly unfolding, particularly over the last fortnight, and the OT team is now set up and working remotely as we strive to bring you the latest on the outbreak and how it is affecting the profession daily.
In the last week alone, we have reported on everything from the Government’s plans to support businesses and provide funding for employees, to what is classified as urgent, emergency and essential care, and how the pandemic is affecting optometry across the globe. Read our daily news round-up to keep up to date with the latest developments.
Earlier this week, the Optometric Fees Negotiating Committee, of which the AOP is a member, issued advice for practices to suspend all routine sight testing in England, a move that had already been taken in other nations. Since then many business owners will have been making the difficult decision about whether to close their doors.
Yesterday I spoke to two optometrist business owners who have closed their practices temporarily to all but emergency eye care. They were insightful and emotionally-charged discussions about what it means for them, their staff – who one described as being like family – and their patients.
Having made the decision at the weekend to close on Monday, one optometrist described calling patients to cancel routine sight tests as like having “a spear go through your body because there is a realisation that you are closing your doors.”
And while staff at the practices expressed a desire to help out if they could, both business owners emphasised how they also understand that staying at home and following the Government’s guidance is now the right and safest thing to do.
For both practice owners, the decision to provide emergency care is steeped in the deep responsibility that they feel for the care of their patients. “We want to be there for our patients and the community that we serve,” explained one.
Expressing the ‘keep calm and carry on’ spirt at its best, one optometrist shared how in this time when practitioners will increasingly find themselves at home, they should try to remain positive and could perhaps use the time to educate themselves and look forward to the future.
“Why not learn a new skill or a new service that you could be offering,” he said. “Come out of this better educated, better equipped and ready to hit the new world head on.”