A Milton Keynes optometrist has qualified as one of the few independent prescribing opticians in the country.
Claire Ranger, co-owner of Hammond and Dummer Opticians with her husband Bob, is understood to be the only such qualified person in Milton Keynes.
Mrs Ranger now registered by the GOC (General Optical Council) to prescribe medicines for eye conditions from the business in Midsummer Boulevard.
“It’s been a long, but extremely interesting process” says Mrs Ranger, “I just wanted to help my patients have a less stressful time when their eyes needed looking after. This means that they won’t have to wait for a few days to be seen in Milton Keynes hospital, or go to Stoke Mandeville for more urgent problems.
“I can do it in the comfort of my own practice. I was thrilled when I received the results of the College of Optometrists final exam, all the hard work, juggling studying, with running a practice and looking after my family, had really paid off.”
Normally opticians would have to refer people with eye problems that needed treatment to a specialist Ophthalmology clinic in the hospital, but now Mrs Ranger can do this herself.
Prior to 2008 it was only doctors, dentists and vets who could write prescriptions. The legislation changed to allow optometrists along with nurses and pharmacists to prescribe after having undertaken further training.
Currently Mrs Ranger is in talks with the Milton Keynes GP Commissioning Group to try to obtain a contract under the NHS, but in the meantime she is happy to see people on a private basis. “Actually many drops are cheaper on a private prescription than paying the NHS prescription charge” she added.