Optometrist of the year Finalist


Congratulations to one of our optometrists, Nick Wingate, for becoming a finalist in the Optician Awards Optometrist of the year category.

Nick joined The Outside Clinic as an Optometrist in 1998. Due to his evident passion for patient care and desire to progress company services, he became Head of Professional Services a year later.

Under his supervision, the clinical team has grown from 6 to over 100, with more than 100,000 patients nationally, having access to The Outside Clinic services each year.

The Outside Clinic is a leading, nationwide provider of domiciliary eye care. Providing the best patient-centric/focussed care has been key to The Outside Clinic’s growth and sector reputation, a position that Nick has been instrumental in enabling and maintaining.

During the last 18 years, Nick has played a pivotal role in evolving The Outside Clinic and its processes, procedures and protocols. This has resulted in a higher standard of clinical effectiveness and support to patients and staff alike. For the patients, this means they always have a point of contact, support and guidance at The Outside Clinic. These advancements have ensured that patients receive the best service possible in their own home.

He spent time on the Optical Confederation Education Committee and the Domiciliary Eye care Committee, helping to create guidelines to improve the quality of UK Domiciliary services, with the code of conduct he helped devise now widely adopted by the NHS.

Nick’s continued commitment to excellence has meant that investment in the latest portable equipment now gives domiciliary patients a service comparable to a high-street provider.

These investments include not only portable fundus cameras but also portable slit lamps and binocular indirect ophthalmoscopes. Internally, Nick has spearheaded the design and implementation of a secure, bespoke digital record keeping system, created specifically for the domiciliary environment.

This system allows for near instant information sharing with head office, augmenting the patient and staff support network, providing field staff with the assurance of a second opinion in the event that one is required. Digital records also help minimise errors from omitted data and illegible handwriting making the probity process easier for NHS area team representatives as well as The Outside Clinic’s own record audit process.

Nick recognised early on that domiciliary eye care was an under-provisioned service, with room for growth to provide essential services to housebound and vulnerable patients who are unable to visit a traditional high street practice.

This foresight has led the way for a significant increase in sight loss prevention for patients who would not have the means for ongoing eye health care without a domiciliary provider.

Constantly forward thinking, Nick maintains the mentality of ‘what else can we do to progress patient care?’

Nick’s passion for patient care has been imperative in the The Outside Clinic’s involvement in the community services pathways. A domiciliary provision of these services has helped improve housebound patient’s choice which in turn has assisted in avoiding anxiety and reduces the need to make avoidable, often arduous journeys to hospital eye clinics.

To further enhance patient care and sight loss prevention methods, Nick has provided invaluable contributions to researching new, pioneering treatments, through partnering in various clinical research projects such as:

Noctura – The introduction of the light therapy treatment, Noctura 400 (appendix) a drug-free, non-invasive mask for DBR/macula oedema.

The Provide Project 2014 – This College of Optometry study investigated the prevalence of visual impairment using eye examination data and qualitative data on attitudes and experiences of the research optometrists, individuals with dementia and their carers.

SENSE – COG – A multinational/ Multicentred Study of Visual and Audiological effects of dementia, with the University of Manchester.

ELI Lilly XET Study – with the Avon & Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust. Nick is carrying out the optical testing as part of the clinical trials into Alzheimer’s medication and ocular side effects.

Nick still regularly conducts home visits as he is still passionate about patient interaction. We receive lots of patient feedback surveys and letters complimenting Nick on his level of patient care, service and the dignity and compassion he shows when visiting his patients.

These visits also allow him to ensure The Outside Clinic processes are effective and that we are doing everything possible to maximise patient care.

Over the years, Nick’s contribution to The Outside Clinic and the optical profession as a whole has been invaluable. Through continued learning, research and growth of community eye care, there is no doubt new milestones will be achieved under his supervision that will go a long way to understanding and address the future growing demands on optical care requirements for an ever- ageing population.

The Optician Awards take place on 1st April 2017 and we wish Nick the very best of luck in for the Optometrist of the year award 2017.