Simon Jones: Time tae talk tough
Author: Simon Jones
I’ve been in Scotland campervanning for the past couple of weeks, getting some welcome rest and recuperation after something of an aberrant year thus far.
One thing that struck my wife and I while we were north of the border was just how engaged everyone is in combatting the spread of coronavirus. The public and proprietors of restaurants, pubs, shops have completely bought in to social distancing measures – much more so than in England, where implementation of measures often seems to be nothing more than a box-ticking exercise. Even on remote islands off the west coast the public are fully committed to social distancing and wearing face masks – even if doing so could exacerbate a bit of dry eye (In Focus, page 7).
There’s clearly better healthcare engagement between all stakeholders in Scotland than in England. I chuckled to myself when I read the title of the most recent Optometric Fees Negotiating Committee (OFNC) press release: ‘Mounting concern over delays in Covid-19 funding information for optical practices in England.’ The subject is clearly not a laughing matter, but much of the profession has been more than concerned for months about the lack of clarity from NHS England – no need for ‘mounting’. In fairness, the OFNC did go on to say in the release that it was becoming increasingly dismayed by the length of time NHS England has taken to confirm Covid-19 funding, but I sometimes wish they could be slightly firmer in their communications.
A few weeks ago in this column I highlighted the direct action optometrists in Ontario were taking by referring patients straight on to hospital ophthalmology and A&E departments at significant cost to the government in response to what was described as decades of underfunding. If the situation with NHS England rumbles on for much longer, similar direct action may no longer seem so far-fetched.