Asking the right questions

What trailblazing IP optometrists have learned over the last decade in practice

hands up with speech bubbles

“Tell me: what do you think?” It’s a question that is asked a lot at work, and rightly so. On so many occasions, my initial ideas have been improved by posing that thought to colleagues for their scrutiny and suggestions.

And, to be fair, much of what goes into each edition of OT is a variation on this tried and tested theme: we put an expert on the spot; they unpack the question and offer insight.

Take, for example, our long-running How do I… series, which this month features AOP clinical and regulatory adviser, Roshni Kanabar, sharing advice on how to deal with referral refusals. 

Or our roundtable project, which brings together experienced eye care practitioners to explore a meaty topic in detail (around an actual table pre-COVID-19, but latterly on Zoom). In June, clinicians from the UK, Sweden and Norway discussed the needs of presbyopic patients with astigmatism, and how they are introducing Bausch + Lomb’s ULTRA Multifocal for Astigmatism into practice.

Or our series, The discussion, where this month we caught up with trailblazing optometrists who were the first in the UK to become independent prescribers (IP). What have been benefits and drawbacks of being early adopters, and how has the pandemic changed the way they work? 

OT’s August/September special edition on IP is well-timed, following the GOC’s launch of a consultation on new education requirements for specialist registration in IP, additional supply and supplementary prescribing. Coming into effect in 2022, the framework will consist of outcomes for learners, standards for education providers and a policy statement on the GOC’s approach to quality assurance of courses.

When I spoke to the AOP’s new chairman of the Board, Dr Julie-Anne Little, for the edition, she agreed that is it a “really interesting time” for IP as the number of people coming forward to take the qualification continues to grow.

“We are at a tipping point,” she explained: “We are moving from a place where the early adopters were pioneering a new way of working but found there was not the structure in place in the NHS for them to utilise those skills, to a place where we can say around 10% of the profession has the qualification and therefore is in a better position to have a meaningful impact on eye care provision…This movement provides an important lever for the profession to discuss how optometrists can support eye care services in primary and secondary settings.”

The AOP team would like your feedback on the GOC’s key proposals to inform its response to the consultation. Get involved by visiting our community forum.

OT is getting in on the act too with our 2021 reader survey. For us, it is an important opportunity to understand what you value and find out what new areas you’d like us to move into. Look out for an email heading into your inbox soon.