Q&A: Paul Chapman-Hatchett

The domiciliary optometrist and AOP councillor speaks with OT  about OutsideClinic’s acquisition of Care Opticians

Will Amlot
In February, OutsideClinic announced the acquisition of domiciliary provider, Care Opticians, and launched a new joint venture ownership structure.

Domiciliary optometrist and AOP councillor, Paul Chapman-Hatchett, founded Care Opticians 25 years ago. He talks with OT about what the new business model will mean for patients and staff.

Why did the partnership with OutsideClinic make sense to you?

Our vision at Care Opticians has always been to create a market-leading service by working with an entrepreneurial team of professionals who are committed to making a difference to the quality of life of people whose choices are limited. It quickly became obvious that this was a vision shared by Henry Pittman at Optimism and the team at OutsideClinic. The partnership offers us the opportunity to scale and accelerate this vision.

How will the joint venture ownership structure work on a practical level?

On a practical level, the joint venture model will continue to work as it has done successfully for many years. Obviously following the acquisition, the contracting party will become OutisdeClinic rather than Care Opticians. This model will give entrepreneurial optometrists the opportunity to run their own practice and drive standards of care with all the benefits and the support that head office can bring. For example, head office can support the running of each joint venture partner by helping with diary management, customer support and marketing.

How does this development strengthen what can be offered to domiciliary patients?

The partnership with OutsideClinic means we can increase our focus on the quality of our service to domiciliary patients. OutsideClinic has a proven and impressive set of services that are offered to joint venture partners, covering sales and marketing, business support, accountancy, HR, legal and contracts. We can help with customer services and patient management across all aspects of the business, including initial scheduling, aftercare and rebooking. We are excited to work with OutsideClinic’s outstanding clinical services team on sourcing equipment and continuing professional development. All this means that optometry teams can spend more time with more patients, providing a more efficient and effective end-to-end service.

What will be your focus in the short and medium term within the business?

In the short-term the focus is on ensuring a seamless transition for our existing partners. In the medium term, we are in a great position to option the joint venture proposition to many more ambitious optometrists up and down the country.

What changes will former Care Opticians patients and staff see following the acquisition?

In some senses, nothing will change, and yet, in another, everything will. The two companies share very similar values – a focus on providing extraordinary eye care to those who need it most remains exactly the same. What changes is that the joint venture partners can access the systems and resources that OutsideClinic has to offer.

The last few years have well and truly shown the value of domiciliary eye care


Why do you think this is the right time to pioneer a joint venture partnership model within domiciliary?

The world of work is changing rapidly. People no longer expect a one-size-fits-all model. Some prefer operating as a full or flexi-time employed individual, some are happy to locum and others want the chance to strike out and become a business owner. To my mind that is the most exciting step of all. We recognise that most people want different things at different times in their career. What I am delighted about is that we are now able to offer the joint venture opportunity across the UK with the confidence that we have all the tools to fully support each and every joint venture. It is very powerful to be able to offer the complete portfolio of choices within one domiciliary company.

What are you excited about in the future of domiciliary care?

For us, the pandemic has changed everything forever. The last few years have well and truly shown the value of domiciliary eye care. Domiciliary has helped to relieve the pressure on the NHS and GPs. Patients are seeing eye care as an essential service and domiciliary means it is available to all. The UK population is ageing with over 60s the fasting growing group in society. The number of people aged 85 and over is projected to double over the next 25 years. There is a huge demand for domiciliary and I want to help OutsideClinic lead the way in delivering optometric care to these individuals. We can maximise their quality of life and maintain their independence.