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Adapting to change

Fashions inevitably change, so the ability to adapt is paramount, explains the AOP’s chief executive

Henrietta Alderman

They say we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but the evidence is that we do.

That is why journals and magazines take time to ensure that they have a compelling cover that invites readers to open and read more. The cover is the window to the journal, as the homepage is the window to the website, and both make a great difference to whether we turn or click to the next page. And much of it is dictated by current trends and fashion.

Fashion features extensively at 100% Optical in the exhibition hall, and it provides an energy and excitement to the show – not just on the catwalk, but in the huge array of new, niche and fashionable eyewear on display.

In the UK, we still haven’t caught up with our continental colleagues who own multiple pairs of spectacles to both express personality and ensure that they have a pair for every occasion. But that will surely come.

AOP is the official education partner at 100% Optical, providing high quality CET in all competencies and with some dedicated streams for AOP members only. Through OT, the AOP’s regional events and 100% Optical, the Association has moved with the changing fashion in how we like to learn. Lectures have been enhanced with interactive learning, there is online video content, and a new approach to blended learning. The AOP is at the forefront within the profession in the delivery of CET, and our programme for 2016 is set to grow further.

"Through OT, the AOP's regional events and 100% Optical, the Association has moved with the changing fashion in how we like to learn"

There are fashions in political life too. Successive governments follow trends of nationalising followed by privatising; centralising followed by localising – and no doubt back again. We had over a decade of primary care trust management of commissioning community health services, which was followed by commissioning being led clinically through the clinical commissioning groups (CCGs). The changes to the NHS’ local structures have frustrated attempts to develop long-term commissioning relationships.

For the moment, the one constant remains the commissioning of general ophthalmic services (GOS), although this has moved to NHS England. The principles of a national sight test for all at the point of need remains. The Optical Confederation met with the Minister for Community and Social Care, Alistair Burt MP, in December. We reinforced these principles, arguing for GOS to be properly resourced and for practices to be supported in developing the IT infrastructure that is needed. But the mood music coming from the NHS England negotiating team is not encouraging.

And, of course, organisations and membership bodies follow trends, if not fashion, in ensuring that they retain good governance, understand the needs of their membership, and deliver to changing requirements and ways of receiving information. For the AOP, we ended 2015 having changed the structure of our Council, along with the way we develop our policy positions. Plus we have increased the ways in which we communicate with members, and you with us, putting us in a stronger footing as we begin 2016.