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Q&A with Richard Spruce

Richard is Optometry Scotland’s independent representative for the Central and East region. An independent optometrist who works for R.D. McFarlane and Nicol’s Opticians, he splits his time between its practices in Forth Valley and the Scottish Borders.

As an Independent Representative, Richard will ensure the views and concerns of independent members within his regional cluster are heard at both a local and national level. We conducted a quick Q&A with Richard to help members learn more about their representative team. 

How long have you been a member of Optometry Scotland? 

Since the beginning! I joined around 2006, following the introduction of the GOS eye examinations. I’ve also been an independent representative for over a year, and recently been assigned my own cluster of practices to be responsible for and I feel this gives real additional value to my role.

What made you want to become an Independent Representative? 

Both commercially and professionally, I’m aware of how challenging it can feel as an independent practice to be noticed. I’m keen to ensure our interests are being represented as well as the multiples.

How do you plan to support your Regional Cluster? 

I’ll be attending meetings, sending out newsletters and regular emails. I’m hoping by initially establishing a path of communication we can figure out what works best for the region and work from there.

How can optometrists based in your region get in contact with you, and why should they? 

My email is the best way to reach me. I have the platform to raise any issues you have with the Optometry Scotland executive committee, and from there, we can address emerging themes with the Scottish Government. So, if you have any questions, problems, or ideas that you want to communicate with me please reach out. Even when I don’t have the answer, I can probably find someone who does!

What are the biggest challenges facing your region that you would like to raise awareness of or tackle? 

Regionally, there aren’t specific issues facing us that aren’t facing every other area of optometrists within Scotland today. However, as a group, independent opticians are probably under-represented to Scottish Government. It’s hard for an individual to get their voice heard above the local level. OS lets us do that, which I think should be more broadly recognised.

What makes your region unique, and how do you plan to celebrate that? 

The central and east cluster has a wide spread of independent practices. As we span such a broad area, there are opportunities for practices that have different day-to-day experiences to interact. I look forward to getting involved, meeting everyone and hopefully being able to provide helpful guidance. 

How would you like to see Independent Members of OS get more involved?

I’d like to see more independent members reach out and let me represent their interests to the executive committee. I understand that the life of an independent is very busy and it can be hard to run a practice and still engage with a wider, more national community. However, it doesn’t have to be an extensive or time-consuming process for them, as I understand that the day job comes first, but it could add real value to OS understandings of the optometrist experience within Scotland today. 

If there was one thing you would like Independent Practices to know about OS, what would it be? 

That we are here to help them and we’re working hard for them. OS is a support system for optometrists – both from independent and multiple practices – that is focused on bringing the issues that eye care professionals are facing to government decision makers. Things can only improve if we accurately inform the OS executive team of what isn’t working for us.

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