Back from the brink

A message from Colin Davidson, College President.

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Since the last issue of Acuity, we have witnessed unprecedented change in optometry due to COVID-19. In addition to learning new words ‘furlough’, ‘donning’ and ‘doffing’, we are now getting used to a different way of working. All four nations have now resumed some form of practice, and it remains important for us to ensure patients, practitioners and staff are all safe. This has been challenging for all of us, and the College has done its utmost to ensure the profession is kept up to date and prepared for a fast-changing situation. 

We have updated optical guidance on our dedicated webpage – including daily FAQs – developed practice support materials, worked with other sector bodies on statements and resources, updated media, hosted Q&A sessions on Instagram and, as always, provided our ongoing Clinical Advice line, which has been busier than ever. We have also worked on your behalf to influence policy changes, including contributing to a consultation that led to primary care optometry being included in UK-wide PPE recommendations. 

I have been listening to members about their experiences of changed practice. Many have been seeing more emergency patients than normal, and some have been concerned about doing the best for their patients in difficult circumstances. The General Optical Council and chief executives of statutory regulators of health and care professionals have said that “professionals may need to depart from established procedures in order to care for patients”, and I am sure this was welcomed by many in the optometric community. 

We may need to liaise more closely with our colleagues in primary and secondary care in the future. As President, I have been involved in discussions with the Royal College of Ophthalmologists and the NHS about how we can build collaborative ways of working and forge even better links. In our article on offering additional services, we show how some of our colleagues are already working more closely with other healthcare practitioners in the community.

I sat on an LOC committee for many years and know the hard work that goes on behind the scenes.

The College has also helped develop and promote the COVID-19 Urgent Eyecare Service. Take-up has so far been mixed. But a word of thanks must go to our local optical committee (LOC) colleagues who are working constantly to improve things at a local level. I sat on an LOC committee for many years and know the hard work that goes on behind the scenes. In our article on the benefits of joining an LOC, we highlight what this entails, and how you may want to consider it as part of your professional development.

As we return to seeing patients, I wish you all the best in your practice, and I am always happy to hear any feedback.

Author(s)

Colin Davidson BSc (Hons) FCOptom DipTp(IP)

Colin currently works part-time for the University of Hertfordshire where he is programme lead for independent prescribing. He also works in independent practice in East Sussex, and at Sussex Eye Hospital in Brighton where he works in both A&E and uveitis clinics. He is a senior assessor for the College and an OSCE chief examiner. He is a former member of East Sussex LOC and a current member of the education faculty at the Johnson and Johnson Institute.

Colin was awarded a Diploma in Independent Prescribing Dip TP(IP) in 2011, and Fellowship of the College in 2013.

E: colin.davidson@college-optometrists.org


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