Optometry practices in metropolitan Melbourne are back to business having been in strict stage four lock down for six weeks due to a second wave of COVID-19, which saw heavy restrictions applied to individuals and businesses.
On 28 September, the Victorian Government announced that allied health practitioners would be able to provide a limited number of face-to-face services aimed at maintaining independence and limiting disease escalation. The latest changes, allowing the provision of routine and preventative care, came into effect at midnight on 18 October.
This is a much happier day for optometrists in Melbourne… I’m confident practices will rise to the challenge of the rebound and flourish as part of a new COVID-normal
Pete Haydon, CEO of Optometry Victoria/South Australia said his organisation was “delighted” that optometrists can resume routine and preventative care after what has been an extraordinary, challenging period for many individuals and businesses, as well as the health care of the community.
“We have supported the Victorian government’s public health response to this second wave of COVID-19, and we believe the community has responded brilliantly to the challenge. However, we believe that as a highly regulated profession with stringent hygiene protocols, it would have been safe to have optometry practices back providing routine services earlier. During the lockdown we were mounting a strong argument to enable practices do so,” he said.
Pent up demand for regular eye examinations, a new pair of spectacles, sunglasses or a supply of contact lenses will no doubt be driving patients into practices over the coming weeks. This demand is expected to escalate as we head towards Christmas and the end of the private health insurance rebate year.
“This is a much happier day for optometrists in Melbourne. Many practitioners have been working on significantly reduced hours for months now, locums have been out of work, and for some practice owners, the future of their business has been under threat,” Me Haydon said.
“For the past two weeks, optometrists have slowly been able to get back to work, providing eye health services to people with chronic conditions. I know that in the background they’ve been planning for a further easing of restrictions by preparing recall letters. I hope that those who have alerted their patients to the availability of appointments will already have their appointment books full.
“I think we will have a very busy time ahead as practices work through the backlog of demand,” he said. “I’m confident practices will rise to the challenge of the rebound and flourish as part of a new COVID-normal.”