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Devon MP visits practice in Okehampton

MP Mel Stride meets ear and eye care experts caring for patients and supporting the NHS

CENTRAL Devon MP Mel Stride has gone to Specsavers to see how expert local opticians and audiologists are making a difference to patients, the community and supporting the NHS – and are ready to do more.

Mr Stride, who is Work and Pensions Secretary, chatted to the team at Specsavers Okehampton, on Fore Street, about how they are delivering NHS services and providing vital access to eye and ear care.

‘It was great to meet the team at Specsavers’ today. It was particularly useful to have had the opportunity to learn more about the range of services they offer. I look forward to working with the Okehampton team to ensure that Specsavers can continue to offer vital care to the local community.’ says Mr Stride.

‘It was also fascinating to hear about the training required for all members of the team, and how community opticians and audiologists have the skills to play an even bigger part in delivering critical services in the community.’

As a locally owned and run practice, Mr Stride also heard about how Specsavers Okehampton supports community organisations and provides a range of career opportunities for local people.

Optometrist Kathryn Reynolds, who is a director of the practice, says that the MP had a tour and spoke to the team about what each did.

‘We are locally owned and run, and proud to be at the heart of our community, providing exceptional eye health and hearing care as well as supporting local organisations. We also spoke about Specsavers’ mission to change lives through better sight and hearing, and our ambition to further improve access to care for all.’

Kathryn also talked to Mr Stride about the lack of a Minor Eye Conditions Service (MECs) in the local area, through which patients can access NHS care for minor eye conditions at their local high street opticians instead of having to visit a GP or travel to hospital.

‘This is a barrier to local residents accessing care. Patients have to go to hospital or secondary care, which is not always necessary. If MECs was commissioned locally, patients and the NHS would benefit. Residents in areas nearby like Tavistock and Launceston have access to a MECS in their local Specsavers and we are working hard to get a similar service commissioned here,’ she adds.

Audiologist Max Bennet, also a director of the practice, took the opportunity to talk to Mr Stride about the NHS and private hearing care services provided in practice.

‘Hearing loss is one of the most common health conditions and the impact of hearing loss can be significant. Whether it’s wax removal, a hearing test or a hearing aid fitting that’s needed, we can ensure residents of Okehampton can access the highest standard of audiology care close to home, without the need for unnecessary hospital appointments.’

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