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Pounds, shillings and pence.

Dear editor

I started working as an ophthalmic optician in 1950. I was one of the first hospital opticians in the UK, a role I had for 16 years, followed by time in a partnership. Therefore, I have witnessed the development of optometry for over 60 years.

It may be of interest to note that in 1951, under the hospital contract; we could buy a pair of children's spectacles glazed with simple spheres for eight shillings (40p).

When I told this to my older partner, he replied that he actually sold them for 3/6 (17p). This was in the 1920s.

When the NHS came in, the eye examination fee was 15/6 (77p) which was soon reduced to 14/- when prescribing spectacles because of the heavy demand for them. This was at a time when a farm worker earned about 4 [pounds sterling] to 6 [pounds sterling] a week; I do not think that our NHS fees have kept up with inflation.

When we gained registration, only optometrists and dispensing opticians should have been registered. Practices should have been limited to partnerships and single practitioners. This could have very much delayed today's commercialism, which appears to be similar to that of pre-registration days.

Yes, too many opticians are qualifying, so outstripping demand. Students should not be accepted for qualifying courses on academic achievements alone. Professional motivation and skills of a practical nature should be taken in to account. After all, our job is a servicing and practical one.

Quoting my old partner: "If you give a good service to everyone, you will make a good living, but not a fortune". He had been with Owen Aves, whose great desire was to make opticians professionals not shopkeepers.

Nigel Austin, Optometrist
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Author:Austin, Nigel
Publication:Optometry Today
Article Type:Letter to the editor
Date:Oct 5, 2012
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