Eye Exam Structuring07/11/2022
A word from Dr Peter Frampton DOptom MSc FCOptom BAppSc(Optom)(AUS) DipTp(AS) DipTp(SP) DipTp(IP). (I am using my entire title to emphasise what I am going to bang on about!)
When I was made a ‘Fellow’ of the College of Optometry in 2011, the citation read:
‘In recognition of his commitment to clinical excellence’
I’m proud of this and the clinical accomplishments achieved with my colleagues; continually advancing our skills and qualification since the turn of the 21st century. No other optometry practice in Northumberland can boast full cover of ‘Medical Optometrists’ able to treat many acute problems in the community.
Sadly, the NHS has no funding streams for the enhanced services, despite community health care becoming much more difficult to access. Indeed, our immediate accessibility makes us, often, the first port of call for many struggling with ocular and general problems. Further, GPs are relying on us to deal with primary eye problems but are not able to offer funding.
I love the clinical work and helping my patients. I do not believe I can deliver the service patients deserve in less than 45 minutes. Compare this to 20-minute tests at some high street providers. Regardless, the NHS fee, per sight test, remains the same, while I am seeing less than half the number of patients! The math is grim.
To cover the clinical costs, we could increase charges for spectacles. This is clinical funding by stealth. When seeking a clinician’s health advice, the ‘value’ is in the service, not an aspirin or optical appliance!
The fairest system is to charge a reasonable upgrade fee for the extra time and hard-earned qualifications needed to address health issues. This does not actually represent a huge change. We have been charging for additional, non-funded services, for over a decade. However, the fee is now automatic when examined by a Medical Optometrist.
To ensure you value the service we must maintain our highest standards of care. We will be judged by these standards, not by how quickly we sold you some spectacles. Let us hope the NHS may also start valuing the services a minority of community optometrists can supply.
Dr Peter Frampton