Claudio Tarantino is a trailblazer for dispensing and contact lens opticians who want to expand their clinical practice.
He has achieved accreditation under the contact lens optician Wales Optometry Postgraduate Education Centre (WOPEC) Minor Eye Conditions (MECS) scheme. It means Claudio can do more to support his patients and the NHS. Primary eye care practitioners triage, manage, and prioritise patients presenting with a minor eye condition.
The service is designed to ensure patients are managed in primary care as much as possible, avoiding unnecessary hospital referrals. Any that are needed can be made urgently to a specialist.
Claudio is able to assess patients with conditions presenting at the front of the eye, such as red eye.
“Having contact lens opticians (CLOs) supporting their local Minor Eye Conditions service is still quite rare in the UK. With Claudio getting his accreditation, he is now part of this vanguard, delivering services in our local commissioned service in South Warwickshire,” says Jonathan Belcher, optometry director, Specsavers Stratford-upon-Avon.
Only about 150 CLOs have gained this accreditation across the country. Claudio says: “Completing the accreditation means that your patients can come and see you in your practice, rather than going elsewhere. This helps to save time and appointments in other healthcare providers, such as GPs.
“Previously, the optometrist would have been the MECs qualified person within optometry practices, so they would see those patients. But now contact lens opticians can also be MECs accredited, seeing patients with anterior symptoms such as red eye conditions and infections.”
Claudio started as an optical assistant in the Stratford-upon-Avon practice and moved into more senior roles with support from store colleagues and Specsavers learning and development programmes.
“My wife used to work here at weekends. After finishing university, she started teacher training, and a job came up locally for her. I wasn’t sure what career I was going to do after finishing university. But I knew the Specsavers team,” he says.
He joined the firm in 2011 and “spent a few years learning the ropes” before starting the dispensing optician course in 2013, for three years. “Then I jumped onto the contact lens optician course.”
Specsavers offers a wealth of opportunities for you
Claudio adds: “For people who are looking for a good career, Specsavers is fab. You can go down the clinical route which is the way I started off. That was my plan to get some sort of professional qualification. But there are also a number of apprenticeships. Plus, there’s the business pathway where you go through managerial training. Specsavers will support you and help you work up the ladder.
“It is a great way to progress. I’ve seen each bit as a stepping stone with the ultimate goal of becoming a director. I’m also on the pathway programme, which is the route to partnership at Specsavers.”