At the centre of eye health

The AOP will be working hard to make sure 2020 is a year to remember for all the right reasons, writes Henrietta Alderman

eye animation

Every New Year prompts new resolutions. 2020 still makes us think of perfect vision, even if we are metric now. So how do you wish this year to unfold for you and for your patients?

Where and how you practice will to some extent determine the patients you see, but most optometrists will see a cross-section of the population coming through the consulting room in the year. Patients will range from children to the very elderly, and those in the middle who are coming to terms with their changing sight needs with the passing years. Each patient presents their own challenges to optometrists, some greater than others.

It has never been more important for optometrists to be at the centre of eye health and care at every stage in a patient’s life, and to be recognised as such. Too many members of the public think of the “optician” as there for the healthy eye, and to detect disease. Not enough people understand the role that optometrists can play in supporting patients in the longer term after a diagnosis, whether with treatment, monitoring or expert prescribing and support for low vision. This view will only change as more and more people experience the full range of what optometrists can offer in primary care.

Not enough people understand the role that optometrists can play in supporting patients in the longer term after a diagnosis, whether with treatment, monitoring or expert prescribing and support for low vision

 

The commissioning landscape continues to change. There are more pathways and local schemes being set up all the time. Scotland and Wales continue to make the greatest strides that the other nations can learn from. The devolved governments fully understand that optometrists are the untapped resource to relieve pressure on GPs and secondary care. This is being recognised in England too, with its patchy commissioning landscape. The Local Optical Committee Support Unit works hard to increase the number of schemes and pathways, such as the introduction of a pathway for children following problems identified in screening last summer.

An auspicious year

If the optometric practice supports patients from youth to old age, in good times and in bad, the AOP does the same for its members. We protect, support and represent our members throughout their careers. This personal and individual understanding of your career is our hallmark.

We recognise how your needs will change at different stages of your career, whatever your mode of practice. Our unrivalled insurance and member defence package is a given in the event of needing assistance with complaints from any source. We have your back.

But we also recognise that the support a locum needs will be different from a business owner, employee, lecturer, hospital optometrist or student, and we recognise the importance of offering the right support at every stage. This is why you can find advice on our website on employment status and tax, government regulation, employee contracts, making accurate claims and dealing with post-payment verification and anything else that might arise for you. It is why we provide CET opportunities for the whole practice team, as well as specialised opportunities for learning at the Hospital Optometrists Annual Conference and Therapeutics London Conference. And it is why the education opportunities we offer cover personal skills and attributes as well as clinical knowledge.

It has never been more important for optometrists to be at the centre of eye health…and to be recognised as such

 

We also acknowledge career changes in our fee structure, with special rates for newly qualified optometrists, and members taking parental leave or career breaks.

2020 is an auspicious year for all those involved in eye health and care, and we are determined to make it a particularly special one. It begins with an even bigger and better 100% Optical with more CET, more dedicated streams for the whole practice team, more AOP dedicated sessions and the biggest Awards event in the sector, to celebrate outstanding achievement. I look forward to seeing lots of you there and I hope 2020 proves to be one to remember, for all the right reasons.

Image credit: Getty/sorbetto

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