Simon Jones: Simulacra and simulation
Author: Simon Jones
It’s always frustrating to see just what percentage of the public would go and see their GP if they woke up one morning with a problem like a red eye or blurred vision instead of an optometrist (‘Optician’ if you’re the General Optical Council or MEL Research).
Released this week, findings in the GOC’s annual research exercise on how the public see optometrists and dispensing opticians showed that one in three now said they would go to an optician. The 30% figure is a record high, but it’s still worryingly low in my book.
More positive is how the gap between those who would see a GP in the same circumstances, or see an optician, has narrowed in recent years. In 2015, 54% said they would see a GP, compared to just 19% who they would go to an optician. Today, it’s 38% and 30% respectively.
How can that gap be closed and then improved upon? More promotion of existing schemes like minor eye condition services and primary eye care assessment and referral services seems like a good place to start. I don’t recall ever seeing details for such schemes in my local GP practice, so I thought I would give the surgery the benefit of the doubt and check its website. After a thorough search, all I could find was a list of optical practices – no advice about local schemes.
I thought this was a poor show, so I had a look at my old GP practice’s website for anything related to eye health. What did I find? Absolutely nothing – and this was by far a ‘better’ practice.
So, it seems that, on the face of it, there are awareness and communication issues at hand. Closer relationships between GPs and optometrists seems like the quickest fix, but we still need an optometry champion in mainstream media for heightened public awareness of eye health.