If I were to ask a random group of people to comment on locally provided medical services, the chances are that most would mention their local GP practice, dentist or possibly, a nearby hospital. How many would mention their optician? How many would acknowledge the vital work that often locally based opticians do? Most of people in this hypothetical random group would think only in terms of their annual eye checks, many of which are quite routine, e.g. circumstances where spectacles are recommended or a previous optical prescription is altered.

Many people with an eye condition will have a significant vision related problem that is monitored or treated by a specialist hospital unit. However, the fact that in practice opticians are the front line for the provision of visual related medical treatment will often be overlooked. A considerable number of those who find themselves sitting in the waiting room of a hospital eye unit will have been referred there not by a GP but by the optician who when undertaking the annual eye test has identified something such as cataracts, glaucoma or a retinal detachment that needs urgent specialist input that might otherwise have gone undetected – case of simple actions being very effective.

Whether working independently or as part of a larger organization, the optician and the optical technicians and sales staff that work alongside her/him will be keeping a very close eye on the commercial realities and bureaucratic and professional requirements that beset all 21st century professions and businesses. Like other parts of the medical profession, opticians routinely have to deal with consumer complaints, allegations of negligence, professional regulation, workplace disputes and difficulties involving third parties such as contractors or suppliers. A high street optician practice is just as likely as a GP or dental practice to have a premises related problem involving a landlord,  builder, surveyor or architect.

What can ASM Plus offer opticians, their patients and those who work with them?

The short answer is that we provide a specialist, expert service that is completely confidential and very competitively priced, and we do get results. For ASM no case is too big or too small and from an optician’s point of view, our commitment to save time and money means that  he or she has more time available in which to treat patients and be successful. In reality, like its GP and dental counterparts a well run opticians practice is much less likely to have to deal with complaints or allegations of negligence.

Medical Mediation – ASM Plus has combined mediation and medical expertise that can be used very effectively in instances of complaints about treatment or service or negligence claims. Mediation is confidential and is the tried and tested way of resolving such matters. Individual mediations can be convened at short notice and there will be considerable savings of time and money – the court dispute that will inevitably take at least two years to resolve can be justly and fairly disposed of in as little as a day. Our team of dispute resolution specialists includes a highly accomplished medical consultant.

Workplace Services – disputes involving staff, partners or directors will be resolved effectively by using tried and tested workplace mediation. Because of ASM’s combined skills and expertise we can assist with cases that have an overlapping family or relationship issue. If a case  was to get as far as an employment tribunal we could use our skills in the field of employment mediation.

ASM offers training and coaching services e.g. to help teambuilding or improve morale. In instances where there is some suggestion of impropriety we could assist by conducting a confidential, internal investigation or alternatively could arrange for a specialist to conduct a neutral evaluation. Our change management specialist could help in cases where there have been changes with staffing, work practices or professional requirements.

Arbitration and adjudication – in some disputes, particularly if there is a financial, commercial or property related element in many cases it will be appropriate to use mediation. Alternatively, the ASM team includes a specialist arbitrator and adjudicator who has a wealth of experience in these fields. As with mediation, an arbitration or adjudication can be convened quickly and the matters in dispute could be resolved in as little as a day and at very reasonable cost.

Contractual Evaluation (CE) – Because ASM Plus understands the importance of the commercial ethos, we offer CE. Our accredited specialist in this field can assist a dental practice or other medical organisation or institution to analyse its commercial  practices and ensure that the available resources are put to best use.

Early  Dispute Resolution (EDR) –  ASM Plus does not cut corners. However, at the same time we always endeavour to make things as simple as possible for our clients hence us always having an initial discussion with a client in order to analyse the relevant issues. in some cases we may for instance not think it necessary for a mediation or arbitration to be convened and may suggest that an initial, confidential, roundtable discussion is organised. This will give the parties concerned an opportunity to listen to one another and in some cases may well result in a settlement or agreement that all concerned are happy with being reached quickly. This approach may be particularly helpful in cases where although there is a significant level of dispute, the monetary value is modest and those concerned may be reluctant to become involved in court proceedings.

If EDR is appropriate it could save even the very modest costs of a mediation and it is an option that we will always consider and discuss.