Mike Hale: A rising tide

Mike Hale is interested to see how GOC’s public perceptions research progresses

The report on the GOC’s public perceptions research made for a refreshing read this week and, in my view, gave a timely reminder of the esteem in which eye care services and professionals are held, at least by those who use and consult with them.

While the headline figure of 94% of patients interviewed reporting satisfaction with both their optometrist and overall visit to a practice did not vary greatly from previous iterations of this research, achieving such a rating is no mean feat in these fraught times. And the more I dug into the report, the more interesting things got.

Multi-year data tracking on a question asking who respondents would speak to first if they woke up with an eye problem showed that the stock of optical practices has clearly risen. In 2015, the first year this research was conducted, only 19% named an opticians or optometrist practice as their first port of call, while doctor’s surgeries took well over half of the sample. Fast forward to 2022 and optical practices have increased to 34%, practically drawing level with GPs on 35%. I suspect it is no coincidence that the major gains in this category have come during the years affected by Covid-19, during which optics performed so admirably.

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