Peer review has been embraced by a group of eye care professionals in Devon who welcomed the General Optical Council's decision to make it compulsory.
Optician observed a one-hour peer review session involving six practitioners at Specsavers in Barnstaple, North Devon, led by optometrist Paul Bradford.
Bradford backed the GOC's requirement for at least one peer review point in the next CET cycle, which starts in January 2013.
'It is a progressive step and the way forward,' he said. 'Isolated practitioners can be seen as a threat to themselves if they don't meet or have discussions with their colleagues. This can happen in a big practice or a small one.'
The Barnstaple practice has been running peer review sessions every Monday morning for around seven months (News 10.02.12). They cover subjects including disease, dispensing, patient handling and dry eye. Bradford added: 'The idea was if we start talking about things now we will feel more comfortable to do so in the future. If we have different ideas the polarisation ends up more towards the middle of the road and a safe option rather than an extreme one. It is also helping us learn a lot more about our patients as they will be very different from those in the city [Exeter].'
Last week's session also involved store director and OO Jon Lloyd, CLO Pauline Bradford and OOs Lucy Waldron, Andrew Cullerne and Yaqut Khan. 'Six to eight practitioners is our ideal number, just in terms of room sizes,' said Bradford, who has considered inviting local independent practitioners for sessions too. GOC guidelines suggested six to eight participants.
The group reviewed two cases, the first being a 23-year-old amblyopic male patient who required enough correction to meet the HGV driving standard of 6/12 in the weaker eye, while allowing for adaption to a large cylinder.
A second patient case involved a 24-year-old female with unilateral superior field loss of sudden onset with dramatic vision loss, but with normal discs and normal pupil reflexes, who was referred.