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Specsavers has launched a free sight and hearing consultation service via video and telephone link.
It is designed to cover concerns ranging from changes in sight to audiology health and aftercare.
Developed in line with NHS recommendations, the new service is open to everyone, whether or not they are a Specsavers customer, it said.
Specsavers said it can be accessed securely from any digital device and if a customer is unable to use video, they will be able to get advice over the phone.
It hailed the remote consultation service as a ‘UK first’ and said it is one of a number of organisations fast-tracking changes to respond to customers’ needs during coronavirus.
Specsavers stores can only offer urgent and essential care to a limited number of customers at the moment.
Giles Edmonds, clinical services director at Specsavers, said: ‘This is clearly significant given the present restrictions, but it is a service that we plan to continue for the long-term to ensure that everyone – especially those who are particularly vulnerable – can access the care and support that they need.’
‘This solution removes a number of barriers, especially with health services already under immense pressure. We hope that Specsavers RemoteCare, our video consultation service, will in some way help people who might otherwise have gone to their GP or to the local A&E unnecessarily.’
Stores can also advise customers on how to locate their prescription and buy new glasses from Specsavers’ recently-launched online glasses store.
Dr Sarah Jarvis, a GP and media medic, said not all detailed examinations could be carried out by video but many could.
‘There are a surprising number of eye health issues which can be dealt with by taking a thorough history and by looking at the outside of the eye during a video consultation.
‘As a GP, I regularly diagnose eye problems without the specialist equipment optometrists have in their test rooms and with so many patients unable to access face to face appointments with their GP, and concerned about attending A&E departments, this service could be invaluable,’ said Dr Jarvis.
More information is available at https://www.specsavers.co.uk/online-consultation-service