On the ground

Coronavirus: on the ground in Manchester

Locum optometrist Shreya Khatry tells OT  how a fully booked clinic that dwindled to four appointments brought home the reality of the COVID-19 outbreak

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As the coronavirus pandemic transforms the way optometrists practise, OT is sharing the experiences of optometrists across the UK. If you, or a colleague, is interested in sharing your story, please get in touch by email.  

Until September last year, I was practising for a multiple. Then I went full-time self-employed. I was starting to get a good variety of work. I was starting to get regular days.

I was unaffected until mid-March. I was going to work but many of my friends who are locums were saying that they were getting a lot of cancellations. I thought maybe they were getting rid of block bookings and didn’t really think much of it. I was going into work as normal at the University of Manchester, but then they announced that they were going to stop clinics. All the students were talking about how other universities had closed so I saw it coming in a way.

The following day I had a shift booked at a practice. I went in and I think that is when the reality hit me. It was fully booked but they had so many cancellations we were only left with four appointments for the day.

No one really knows what is going on. You don’t know how long this is going to last or the impact that this is going to have. Even if things return back to normal, the practices might not be able to afford locums, so I might not have a job for a while.

Shreya Khatry
Optometrist Shreya Khatry

It happened so quickly for me. I was practising as normal and then all of a sudden the situation changed. The week before I had cancellations, I was being a little bit more cautious. Signs were put up in front of the testing room and if patients had symptoms, or had been to certain countries, they were being told to stay away from practice.

I think it’s important to stay calm and remember that you are not on your own. Everyone is in the same boat


In terms of looking after myself, usually I would go to the gym, but they have been shut so I have been going on long walks. I have been going to the park and doing home workouts. I am trying to fuel my body with nutritious food. I think it’s important to stay calm and remember that you are not on your own. Everyone is in the same boat.

  • As told to Selina Powell.