27 April 2020

Ball & Gatehouse Opticians: Life in lockdown

Join Nicola and Oliver Gatehouse, owners of Ball & Gatehouse Opticians, as they update you on the challenges they have faced in their practice since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“On 23 March at 1pm, we closed our independent practice on the Wirral and sent our staff home with the promise of full pay. With no word from NHS England we felt it was the right thing to do, and we cancelled all further routine eye tests. That evening the country went into lockdown.

“I am a dispensing optician and I own the practice with my optometrist husband. We planned to man the practice between us, each going in every other day to twiddle our thumbs - or so I thought. I actually couldn't have been more wrong! 

“On a daily basis there is always something happening. Mending children's glasses, checking in glasses and contact lenses (we've had big delays on specs ordered before lockdown began), and not to mention the emergency eye appointments that my husband has seen. On top of that there are the accounts, paying bills (they don't stop!) and keeping on top of our social media presence. This will be our new 'normal' for a while, I'm guessing. 

“On the Wirral we are part of the MECS scheme for emergency appointments. This is where we've seen the biggest change. The introduction of hubs mean we now take it in turn with other Wirral practices to have a centralised number re-directed to our phone line. Here, we take calls from local GPs and pharmacies who have patients with eye problems that need to be seen. 

“Our days may be different to before, but we're still here providing essential and emergency eye care for the people that need it.” 
 

Nicola Gatehouse and Oliver Gatehouse MCOptom own Ball & Gatehouse Opticians, an independent, family-run practice located in Bebington, Wirral, providing professional eye care tailored to suit patient's visual needs.

To keep up-to-date with the latest guidance on COVID-19, read our FAQs. ​​​​​​​

Related further reading

Here we summarise three research papers from a recent issue of Optometry in Practice.

This article provides practical tips for assessing and managing eye health in people with varying degrees of hearing loss.

This article describes an audit to evaluate how the COVID-19 pandemic affected hospital contact lens services.