Bill Harvey: The rhythm of life
Author: Bill Harvey
Today, as I write this on Tuesday, the Prime Minister is expected to announce major steps in the easing of lockdown. Over the next few weeks, it is expected that most facilities, including cinemas, galleries and museums, will reopen. With eye care practices in England and Wales already in the amber phase, we might expect Scotland and Northern Ireland to follow and, by August, see services returning to our high streets.
But I am sure we have all realised that what we are returning to is a new normal. We know that many countries which have already eased restrictions, from New Zealand and Australia to Iran, Singapore and Germany, have seen new outbreaks of the disease. We also know that, as travel restrictions are eased, the likelihood for the virus to cross borders will return. So, our new normal is one of PPE, sterilisation and separation for the foreseeable future. We will need to prioritise patients and resist the temptation to prioritise the commercial over the clinical need.
We will also become used to new styles of learning and teaching. Most of us have already taken part in some of the many, excellent webinars and online programmes made available. I have had to record some of my PowerPoints to be used on courses and there will be an increased focus on home learning and teaching where possible. For the professional qualifications, we will see much of the Stage 1 assessment changing to online, while direct observation will be possible only with maintenance of suitable safety guidelines. I expect the OSCEs to return as before but with provision made for social distancing and PPE for actors and examiners.
Ours is an adaptable profession, and one that has responded well under recent pressures. Let us hope this is recognised by the powers that be, and that eye care will be supported over the coming months and years when times get tough.