Resilience through challenge

The roll-out of the new tier system has brought challenges, but adaptability continues to keep practitioners going

Getty/Batuhan Toker

It seems that every conversation I have had in the past few weeks revolved around which areas of the country are in which tier, what restrictions are in place, and how we are all muddling along with them.

“How are the restrictions where you are?” is a common question passed down wobbly international video calls with my friends around the world, all facing varying effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

This week might have felt particularly bleak at times, with a two-week “fire-break” announced in Wales starting from tomorrow evening (Friday 23), and as more areas of the UK move into tier three of the Government’s local alert system. At the time of writing, Liverpool, Lancashire, Greater Manchester and South Yorkshire are operating within or about to enter tier three restrictions.

Having pushed through the lockdown earlier this year and begun the slow process of rebuilding, to observe the progress of the tier system across the country has been a challenge.

OT has heard anecdotally about a drop in customer footfall from a practice in Liverpool, following the roll out of tier three restrictions.

Mark Blankstone, owner of Blankstone Opticians, shared that though he won’t need to alter how the practice operates, he has felt a need to “pare back a little bit” and focus on delivering the message to patients that it is safe to attend for appointments.

If you have observed any changes in footfall while operating in an area of tier three restrictions, do take part in our poll.

As we look ahead to the possibilities of working with these restrictions for the last few months of 2020, it is interesting to consider how things could adapt going forwards.

Last week, the General Optical Council (GOC) opened a consultation on views into the content and impact of its COVID-19 statements, established to support registrants delivering care during the pandemic by removing “unnecessary regulatory barriers,” clarifying areas of practice and reinforcing guidance.

The consultation is open until January and is seeking views on how the existing COVID-19 statements should apply in different phases of the pandemic going forwards, as well as seeking feedback on the content of the statements, and if there are further areas of GOC regulations, legislation or guidance that would need to change or be put in place during a pandemic.

While this week has brought its challenges, I have felt encouraged by the stories of professionals who have been adapting.

From the AOP student representatives who have given us an insight into studying in an altered university environment and their excitement to get back into optometry, to practices sharing their experiences of ensuring patient and staff comfort, to optometrists launching resources for trainees. Amongst the changes, there has been a deal of resilience, passion and creativity to look out for.

If you have a story or an experience you would like to share, please get in touch: [email protected]