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We hope that everyone is staying safe and well during the early stages of the new national restrictions. The key message from these restrictions which are now law, is to stay at home. However travel for medical appointments is permitted. As a business owner my priority is the safety of my colleagues who work with me in the practice. Guidance from the College of Optometrists states that Optical practices should continue to follow existing IPC (infection, prevention and control) and social distancing and also prioritise emergency/urgent and essential care on a needs and symptoms led basis. Routine appointments should only be provided if capacity permits, and if it is in the patients’ best interests.
With this in mind patients telephoning to book an appointment will be asked, in addition to possible COVID-19 symptoms questions relating to the need for an appointment at this time. For example this may be “are you having any difficulty or concerns with your vision, spectacles or contact lenses”? Patients who are having problems will be offered an appointment but patients who are not experiencing any problems but request a routine appointment simply because they are due will be asked to defer until after the restrictions are lifted. Bearing in mind that the key message from the new restrictions is to stay at home we believe that this approach is in the best interest of both patients and practice staff. Is it really in the patient’s best interests to leave home at this time for an appointment that can be delayed? We will of course contact patients who require a non essential (routine) appointment when the lockdown is over. Patients requesting a MECS appointment will be triaged in the usual way. Patients who are shielding or those who are in the extremely vulnerable group must of course stay at home. If patients in these categories are having problems with their eyes we will provide advice via the telephone.
All of this of course may change but we will do are best to keep you informed via our website. The good news is that we have all received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccination. However the second dose has been postponed from 3 weeks to 10 weeks. Please be assured that any actions taken are in the best interests of both patients and staff and our aim is to provide a full service for those that need it while minimising face to face contact.
Stay safe and follow the rules!