A surprise 'Pop-up' demo @ Optical Express Harley Street clinic today.
Only three of us - more expected but the weather was dreadful, yet we stopped at least four people from undergoing today's scheduled surgery, with others considering cancelling after we'd spoken to them.
Just after 11.30am Jimmy B and Shabir walked inside the clinic and the staff immediately locked the door after them - even the patients couldn't get in!
Btw, OE staff are saying BAD things about me! One of them told Jimmy B that I'd caused a lot of trouble. Jimmy laughed and pointed out that we're on the same side!
Stefan Klopper was the surgeon in situ today, and I think he may have left early with so many cancellations.
'N', one of his prospective victims (cancelled after talking to me) had been told by the optom that the surgery was 100% safe!!
I spoke to one young man, accompanied by his friend, who had flown in from Saudi Arabia to have lasek surgery today.
As fate would have it, 'N' spoke arabic!!
She translated for me and his friend googled OERML. Then they went into the clinic...
They surprised me a little while later when they approached me from the opposite direction, because OE had sneaked them out of the back door - after he cancelled!
We were about to leave when one of the reception staff came out (I think staff were being sent home by this time), aged 30ish, wearing glasses.
She was quite friendly, having talked to Shabir and Jimmy inside, and I asked her why she was wearing glasses.
She told me that she only has a small prescription.
I replied that it was big enough to need glasses, and what about all the patients OE operate on who have 'small prescriptions'? She replied (quite fairly) that it's her personal business.
She said she was a single mother with a young child and a mortgage, suggesting she was unable to afford surgery.
I replied that her wages are paid by people damaged by OE, many who have far more serious issues to worry about than just a young child and a mortgage, yet OE sell to them.
She was walking away from me at that point and I told her she had no ethics. She turned back to fight me (verbally), but then presumably realised she could only lose the argument, and walked off into the rain.
I am sure many of you reading this will appreciate why this young woman made me angry. Although she has apparently worked at OE for only a month, that is enough time for her to have seen the horrifying numbers of people attending the 'Complex Cases Management' clinic with post op problems!
For those who may not have heard it before: I consider EVERY single person who supports this company in ANY way, culpable in contributing to the damage they do to so many.
With our work done for the day, I crossed the road to visit the nice people at the General Optical Council, as I've been waiting two weeks for a meeting with them to be scheduled, and I'm not very patient.
In an impromptu and brief 'pre meeting' with two of the 'Fitness To Practise' investigators, I briefly outlined my concerns that optoms are working against GOC guidelines, under pressure to make sales for commissions without regard for the patient, and stressed the urgency that we meet to discuss this asap.
I showed them a copy of the Patient Advisor Flow, which they'd read about in the recent press reports, and promised copies of other documentation illustrating bonus payments made to optoms and 'refractive technicians' (aka sales staff).
I also mentioned that many people are not reporting optoms to the GOC because the online complaint form is not simple to access and not everyone is computer literate. They suggested an alternative option, and I will update you with this information after our meeting, date to be confirmed on Wednesday.
Three points from the GOC ‘Code of Conduct’:
• make the care of the patient his or her first and continuing concern
• recognise the limits of his or her professional competence
• ensure that financial and commercial dealings do not compromise the interests of the patient
I think OE's Clinical Services Director, wee McOptom Stephen Hannan, has forgotten that he is also subject to this Code
Protesting isn't something I've ever done or aspired to, but yesterday's protest was a wonderfully cathartic experience for me. I was persuaded into undergoing RLE due to heavy sales pressure from the OE optometrist and ‘refractive technician', I believed their lies and let them operate on one eye - they are NEVER going to touch the other! I feel so happy that on the corner of OE’s 22 Harley Street clinic, both I and my fellow campaigner Christina (who eyes have been wrecked beyond repair), personally got to persuade at least 10 Would Be OE Victims to give them the widest berth. We were asked by many passers by why we were protesting. When we politely explained that every person there had some loss of vision thanks to eye surgery, and how OE treated us with total disregard and careless aftercare, they were horrified. One of my finest moments was when a young woman about to go in for a consultation changed her mind after listening to us. She didn’t even go in to cancel and said she’d call them. If only I had spoken to or met protesters like me before the op that ruined my eye - thankfully I wouldn't let them take the other!
If we needed a reminder of OE's lack of care for their patients, on Tuesday in OE's Harley Street waiting room, I met a woman in a very distressed state. She'd had RLE surgery a month earlier and was experiencing extreme discomfort and loss of vision, also unable to work as a result and therefore financially affected.
A few of us had told David Mungall (patient liaison) about the distress this woman was in, crying in the waiting room.
Evidently unconcerned, Optical Express staff gave her eye drops and left her to find her own way home, despite the fact that SHE COULD HARDLY SEE THE STEP outside number 22!
Sasha Rodoy stormed in and DEMANDED that Stephen Hannan ordered a taxi to take the woman home and he obliged.
But WHY did it take this action for OE to act instead of sending her out into the street virtually blind?
BECAUSE - taxis cost money and profit comes before anything.