Optometrist Rupesh Bagdai initially got involved in his local optical committee (LOC) because he was not happy with the way that services were being delivered in the area that he practised.
Now chair of Cheshire Local Eye Health Network and a commissioning lead for the Local Optical Committee Support Unit (LOCSU), Mr Bagdai admitted that he quickly got “sucked in” and it became part and parcel of his role in the profession. “I started to support contractors and performers and help the LOC develop further services,” he shared.
For Mr Bagdai and fellow optometrist Dharmesh Patel, who is chair of the Greater Manchester Local Eye Health Network, it is important to be a part of an LOC because, as the role of the optometrist changes, committees have a pivotal part to play in driving change in optics through enhanced services.
As a greater emphasis is placed on practices delivering enhanced services, it is important for LOCs to work with local stakeholders to maximise the use of optical practices in the delivery of eye care in their area, Mr Patel said.
Both optometrists actively encourage newly-qualified optometrists to get involved in their LOC. “If you are newly-qualified, you are trying to understand the world that you have just entered, the work that is involved and how things work on a day-to-day practice level,” Mr Patel explained, adding: “The beauty of being in an LOC [as a newly-qualified optometrist] is that you get that understanding and knowledge and access to people – you can enact change and support the direction of travel in your local area.”
As the landscape of optics changes, practitioners need to be involved in that change at a local level to enable them to deliver high quality optical services. “You need to be involved in all that change…you want to be at the heart of that understanding so you are moving forward with those changes and maximising the use and involvement of optical practices all of the way through.” Mr Patel stressed.