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Q&A with Colette Dunsmore

Colette is Optometry Scotland’s independent representative for the South. An IP optometrist who serves on the Lanarkshire Area Optometric Committee, she also owns her own practice in Stonehouse, Lanarkshire.

As part of the OS Executive Committee, Colette will ensure the views and concerns of members within her regional cluster are heard at both a local and national level. We conducted a quick Q&A with Colette to help members learn more about their representative team.

How long have you been a member of Optometry Scotland?

I joined Optometry Scotland very early on, following initial GOS negotiations. I left for a few years and came back in 2018, after meeting the former chair at an optometry conference. David Quiqley encouraged me to return and reassured me of the increasingly proactive nature of OS - I haven’t looked back since.

What made you want to become an independent representative? 

I know from personal experience that sometimes being an optometrist, particularly an independent, can feel isolating. It can be incredibly difficult to find sources of empathy or resolve for the obstacles that can interfere with day-to-day provision of the best healthcare possible for patients – particularly when these obstacles are ones which could be changed. I became an independent representative in an effort to be the voice of independent practices, I didn’t want others to feel their concerns were not being listened to.

How do you plan to support your regional cluster? 

It’s my hope to encourage a more cohesive optometry community within my region. I’m really keen to plan a networking event for the practices to get to meet them and reassure everyone that I’m a real person who they can have an honest conversation with! I think one of the drawbacks of the past few years is that with everyone behind a screen, we haven’t been able to establish a level of comfort. Until then, I will just be phoning round the practices to formally introduce myself, but a lot of them already know me. I’m hopeful that this gives me a more approachable feel as a familiar face that does the same day job!

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

I’m happy to do whatever suits the member – I am contactable via email or phone call, or equally will travel to meet in person. No concern is too big or small, sometimes a listening ear can make all the difference.

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

The issues facing optometrists across Scotland are all relatively similar, related to access to resources and funding. Should a unique issue arise within my region, I’m confident we would be able to address it with the help of the wider OS community.

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

I really want to reassure independent members that they can approach me with any issues or concerns they have, and I will take these to the executive committee on their behalf – this can also be done anonymously, which I think is important to note.

I feel I represent independent practice as a member myself, but I want to really know how to be an honest representation of my region, and I can only do that if they let me in to their experiences, which may be wildly different from my own. Hopefully the implementation of in-person meetings will also allow for the creation of a safe and supportive environment for them to share their stories with me.

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

I would want them to know that both independents and multiples are important, and that their voice counts. Optometry Scotland will influence decision makers on your behalf, if we know what you need from us to feel happy in your day-to-day profession. I would love more independent members to join to ensure OS reflects the composition of optometrists within the country today and provides an honest representation of their interests.

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