I too was in Wales last week, but for a holiday instead of taking up residence at the Celtic Manor resort for the Optix Conference. After a debrief from content editor, Andrew McClean, on what went down at the conference, it was refreshing to hear that so many practice owners were happily talking business and bottom lines, either by going private or by adding audiology – although there was some disagreement as to exactly how profitable that could be.

Refreshing because it would be too easy to default to the trope that optometrists are generally clinically led individuals with no business acumen and would often rather sell up than deal with logistics on a day-to-day basis. The modern optometrist isn’t like that.

It was slightly disappointing to hear that going private still remains such a temptation for practice owners. I have nailed my feelings on this subject to the mast before, essentially that once you provide NHS care to patients, you have a moral obligation to remain ‘locked in’. For me, it’s a question of reducing access to eye care and I’m yet to see an argument that doesn’t involve the notion of simply letting patients go to multiples instead.

However, I do concede that the pandemic has turned the private care debate on its head. And it’s not as if the government has shown GOS much love in recent years. Maybe it is time to look at new ways of doing things?

While Optix was taking place, the inexplicably short window for the profession to have its say on the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education’s proposed optometry apprentice slammed shut, with as much noise as when it opened. It strikes me as odd that more associations and bodies didn’t shout about the consultation while it was open – maybe it was felt they had already had their say, but it’s rather presumptuous to assume that nobody else would like to have theirs.