Marking milestones

Finding ways to make a difference in difficult times

woman jumping

When OT  created its ‘Key milestones’ feature a few years ago, the idea was simple: to find out the stories behind projects in optics. Who was came up with the idea, what inspired them, what work was involved to get it off the ground, and what impact has it had for the profession?

The stories have been many and varied. Last year, for example, we spoke to optometrist and ophthalmic consultant at PCSE, Katrina Venerus, about the development of PCSE Online and the sector’s response to the transition, and to optometrist Sachin Nath about opening his practice, The Optical Co, and the importance of building the practice brand.

At its heart, the idea of ‘Key milestones’ was to celebrate success. As last year progressed, however, we sadly became accustomed to milestones of a much more sombre kind, be it the number of people who have lost their lives in the UK due to COVID-19, or the length of the list of patients waiting to access NHS care.

This week, we learned that Captain Sir Tom Moore, the 100-year-old Army veteran who raised almost £33m for NHS charities, had died of the virus. A hero in every sense, his aim to raise £1,000 for NHS charities by walking 25m loops of his garden back in April became a striking example of how an individual effort of solidarity and resilience in the face of adversity can inspire and bring a nation together – and that positive milestones could still be met.

Back in OT’s June/July edition, as the effect of the COVID-19 crisis developed, we spoke to Zoe Richmond, interim clinical director of the Local Optical Committee Support Unit, for a timely ‘Key milestones’ – setting up the COVID-19 Urgent Eyecare Service (CUES).

Explaining the significance of CUES, Ms Richmond told us: “CUES breaks down barriers between primary and secondary care. When we are looking at the consultation with the patient there is an opportunity to invite in ophthalmology advice, so teams and individuals from the hospital can support your decision-making. When CUES is implemented at its best, it goes beyond that. It is around decision-making in primary care, so you can fully manage a greater number of patients.”

One way to make a difference in optics in 2021 is to join the AOP Council. Nominations for vacancies on the Council open on 10 February and close on 1 March.

“We are looking for passionate members to put themselves forward to become AOP Council representatives. No previous experience is required,” AOP policy officer, Jacqueline May, told OT.

For Mike George, AOP chair of the Board, it is an opportunity to “rise above the social media noise and help to shape the future of our profession with evidence, consideration and healthy debate on the AOP Council.”

For information about the vacancies and how to apply, visit Elections 2021.

Lastly, inspired by stories that readers have shared with us, OT will be launching a new series where we find out how practitioners have achieved their professional and personal goals in the face of adversity. Please do get in touch and let us know your experience.