“I could see instantly the importance of the work our members do”
AOP chief executive, Adam Sampson, on getting hooked on optics, and the winds of change blowing through the profession
Three years ago, I worked briefly as interim chief executive for the General Optical Council before taking up a job running a charity offering care to severely disabled children and adults. The role at the regulator was always a short-term proposition, but as I wandered out of the smart offices and off down Old Bailey on my last day, I had a pang of regret – and a sense of unfinished business that I had not anticipated when I started.
To be candid, this pang was not for the GOC itself (nice people though they were). I look back now and I realise that it was the optical profession that had grabbed me. And no surprise: the job that optometrists do is essential. Every year you help millions of people like me to live happier and more productive lives by correcting our otherwise less-than-perfect vision. And, just as important, you have the clinical skills to identify the early signs of more profound health issues. Those skills are highlighted in abundance the August/September edition of OT, with its focus on independent prescribing.
I am well aware that there is serious work ahead. As a newcomer to the world of optics, I was immediately struck by the sense that optometry’s mission was being increasingly threatened by the winds of change
So, when I was offered the chance to come back to optics and work for the leading organisation in the field, of course I jumped at it. I have spent my career in organisations such as Shelter that are values-driven, and I could see instantly the importance of the work our members do – and why the AOP is here to support, protect and represent you on that mission.
As Dr Julie-Anne Little, our new chairman of the AOP Board, puts it in the edition, the “profession does not get the glory, but it does a tremendous job to provide eye care to the nation.”
I am well aware that there is serious work ahead. As a newcomer to the world of optics, I was immediately struck by the sense that optometry’s mission was being increasingly threatened by the winds of change whirling around the sector. There is the developing healthcare agenda, with the NHS poised yet again for another of its seemingly endless cycles of reform. There is the rapidly moving commercial market in which eye care is delivered. There is the consumer shift from the High Street to the world of online sales. And there is the inexorable march of technology.
And, at the centre of this whirlwind, are people. That includes the public who need access to proper eye health care, and the dedicated and skilled professionals who make up the membership of the AOP and the readership of OT.
In this COVID-dominated world, finding innovative ways for me to get to know you and understand your views and aspirations is a key priority. What you do is incredibly important and it is a mission worth protecting. With your help and guidance, I hope I can be part of doing just that.