OT asks: The one change that shaped the way I practise in 2023...
From the big picture changes in the profession, to the personal career achievements and everything in between, OT heard from optometrists from across practice settings
As the year draws to a close, OT asked optometrists, practice teams, and professionals from across optometry to share the one big change that shaped the way they practiced.
...making the shift to practice director
Hassnain Safdar, optometrist and practice director
It has been a rollercoaster few months since taking over the practice, but I’ve enjoyed every moment of it – getting to grips with different aspects of business, HR, legal, finance and more. Since taking over we've invested in the latest technology and equipment.
...the effect of patient feedback
Joy Hynes, optometrist and practice owner
The one change that shaped the way I practise in 2023 has been understanding the importance of good feedback from patients, and to this effect, we have been more proactive in asking for Google reviews, resulting in an increase in new patients.
...developing an optometry kit bag
Simon Raw, professional services optometrist, CPD lead and universities lead at OutsideClinic
This innovation has had a profound impact on our daily practise. This transformative shift has not only enhanced the convenience and accessibility of eye care services for my patients but has also allowed me to provide more personalised and efficient care. The new design features pre-cut slots for each piece of equipment, reducing the risk of damage during transit and making it easier to see if something has been left behind.
All essential tools and instruments needed for domiciliary eye visits are now conveniently organised and lightweight, fitting into a single, easily transportable bag, enhancing the efficiency of our work, but also reducing strain on our bodies and allowing us to focus more on patient care and less on logistics. It’s a game-changer that has improved the quality of our services and the overall experience for both optometrists and our patients.
A look back at 2023 in headlines
...taking on a new role
Kiki Soteri, head of clinical services at Leightons Opticians and Hearing Care
The one change that has shaped the way I practise in 2023 has been my move to Leightons Opticians and Hearing Care. My colleagues and I are equipped to continuously learn, empathise with, and inform our patients – harnessing the technology at our fingertips.
Having access to video slit lamp imaging, Optomap, optical coherence tomography, evolving tech and open access artificial intelligence tools has radically improved the ability to communicate and engage with patients and colleagues.
I will never stop learning, and this year it has been a privilege to be part of the group leadership team, and in turn to lead Leightons’ newly-formed clinical services team, which has provided strong induction foundations for a great many new professional colleagues that have been welcomed into our branch teams. Our mission is to empower colleagues providing eye care to be the best version of themselves and be supported with their ongoing professional development during 2023 and into 2024.
...starting a domiciliary business
Henry Leonard, domiciliary optometrist and business owner, and head of clinical and regulatory at the AOP
The one change that has shaped the way I practise in 2023 was setting up a domiciliary business, so I can visit local patients who are unable to attend a community optometry practice.
...changing working patterns
Rebecca Rushton, locum optometrist
I reduced my days from five or six per week to no more than four. I feel much calmer overall, and find I have more patience and mental bandwidth for my patients, as well as a better work-life balance.
...seeing an increase in demand for minor eye conditions services (MECS)
Harjinder Sunda, domiciliary optometrist and business owner
As our service users are vulnerable, due to an array of issues including mobility, isolation and mental health, prompt access to a MECS appointment is vital. We therefore ensure that on all testing days, there is always availability for these appointments.
As a community optometrist, being able to provide access to the MECS service so promptly has been very rewarding, especially given the day-to-day challenges many of our service users already experience.
...developing through pre-reg
Aisha Iqbal, pre-reg optometrist at Valli Opticians in Hebden Bridge
As a student who is coming to the end of my pre-reg, I have developed in many different ways. Adapting from university and one-hour testing to clinic testing has taught me to become more efficient and to develop a routine.
Being exposed to different patients with a variety of pathologies has prepared me well for being a fully-qualified optometrist. I have been lucky to see such a wide range of conditions so early on in my career, and so it makes it easier when I develop a differential diagnosis.
...taking the NESGAT qualification
Elaine Hawthorn, Specsavers Stranraer, recipient of a 2023 Doug Perkins medal in recognition of clinical excellence by optometrists
Studying for the NES Glaucoma Award Training qualification has made the biggest change in the way I practise in 2023. It has increased my knowledge and understanding of glaucoma diagnosis and management beyond where I would previously have expected it could, as well as improving my skills in gonioscopy, which I am now hoping to help coach my other optometrists in.
This allows us to carry out more advanced clinical skills in the community, refining referral and thus helping the hospital department further.
What change has the AOP been seeking in 2023?
Dr Peter Hampson, AOP clinical and professional director, on campaigning with patients and practitioners in mind
2023 has been a busy year at the AOP. Alongside our partners in the sector, we have been campaigning for much-needed improvements to eye care provision, while being mindful to recognise that this change must work for the NHS, while also being sustainable for practitioners who have faced increasing costs.
Ophthalmology has some of the largest ever waiting lists – and with a growing ageing population, this list is unlikely to reduce. It is for this reason we’re looking at pragmatic changes that could have an immediate effect on patient care alongside changes that will have a wider impact in years to come. We want to ensure that solutions are designed that help to manage the flow of initial referrals into hospital as well as better managing chronic but stable eye conditions that can be monitored, and in some cases treated, in community optometry.
We’re looking at pragmatic changes that could have an immediate effect on patient care alongside changes that will have a wider impact in years to come
Central to our asks are three themes: IT connectivity between primary and secondary care, addressing the variation in commissioning of extended eye care, and reviewing the medicines that are available to all optometrists.
Central to the AOP’s asks are three themes:
- IT connectivity between primary and secondary care
- Addressing variation in commissioning extended eye care
- Reviewing medicines available to all optometrists.
There is an opportunity to make a positive impact on waiting list times and improve the patient experience, which is why we continue to advocate to the health ministerial team, including Dame Andrea Leadsom, the new Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Primary Care and Public Health.
OT would like to thank all of our contributors for their time in sharing their reflections and will return to them in January to discover their ambition for the year ahead.
Until then, join the conversation by adding a comment below or tagging us on social media with the one change that has shaped the way you practise in 2023. We wish all our readers a happy New Year.
More 2023 in review
Drivers for change in industry in 2023
Eyes on the prize: the challenges of 2023 and optimism approaching 2024
“We know that we can and should be contributing to a much wider understanding of healthcare”
“Optometry Wales will continue to support the profession through this time of continuous change”