Richard Spruce, part-owner of McFarlane and Nicol’s Ltd, a small independent opticians with four branches across Alloa, Alva, Selkirk and Stenhousemuir.
We caught up with Richard Spruce, a member of our Executive Committee and an independents representative, to discuss how optometrists in Forth Valley are helping with Hospital Eye Service (HES) remobilisation plans.
Forth Valley Health Board has secured funding from the Scottish Government which is enabling it to enlist the help of local optometrists in the area with a shared care scheme to help clear the backlog of glaucoma patients. Similar initiatives are running in health boards across Scotland.
Richard discussed how proud he is to be involved in the scheme which will help assist his local ophthalmology department at Forth Valley Royal Hospital.
He said: “There is a massive backlog of glaucoma patients who are waiting to be seen due to the pandemic.
“In Forth Valley, around five or six practices, including my own, are preparing to introduce glaucoma clinics to assist in clearing the backlog in the coming months. The practices involved are the ones that assisted emergency eye treatment centres during the pandemic by providing bases for hospital staff to work from.
“Patients will visit the practice closest to them, which in a lot of cases will allow patients to be seen in their local area rather than having to visit the hospital. Patients can expect the same standard of care that they would receive in hospital.
“The prospect in being involved in this project is really exciting. It is a fantastic opportunity to gain experience in different areas and conditions. We will have lots of support from ophthalmology staff at the hospital.
“At present, Forth Valley has a set budget from the Scottish Government and the initiative will continue until these funds run out but I would love to see it continue into the future if there is scope to do so.
“These clinics are a great way for us to support our local Hospital Eye Service while helping to keep NHS waiting lists down.”