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Quick-thinking spares mum-of-two ‘nightmare’ hospital visit

The quick-thinking of a Northampton optometrist spared a mother-of-two the prospect of a “nightmare” hospital visit during the current coronavirus outbreak.

Fiona Bailey, from Kingsthorpe, thought she had picked up a minor eye infection last Sunday (March 22) but the pain quickly escalated, prompting her to message Tompkins, Knight & Son Optometrists through Facebook at 7.30am on Monday morning to request an urgent appointment.

Due to strict Government guidelines the award-winning practice, in Kingsley Road, Northampton is currently open for emergencies only. Within minutes, Fiona had received a reply and a consultation was set up for that morning with Dr Keyur Patel.

The 39-year-old said: “I was extremely sensitive to light. It felt like a red-hot poker was being driven through my eyeball. I was petrified.

“When I arrived the TK&S team were friendly but my interaction was kept to an absolute minimum. They all had gloves on and everything I touched was immediately cleaned down. Keyur was dressed in a boiler suit and a mask and had a plastic screen fitted to the examination machine to form a barrier between us. Nothing was left to chance.

“Keyur reassured me that my sight would be ok, although I had a nasty eye ulcer.  I was given a prescription and within the hour the pain had stopped. Three days later I had a follow-up appointment and was signed off as my eye had improved so much.

“I’m so grateful to Keyur and the TK&S team – a hospital visit in the current climate would have been an absolute nightmare, with implications for all my family. I can’t recommend them enough.”

Fiona was able to be treated at TK&S rather than Northampton General Hospital as Dr Keyur Patel is an Independent Prescribing optometrist – one of only a handful in the region.  This allows him to clinically assess a patient, establish a diagnosis, determine the clinical management required and prescribe where necessary.

He said: “Having spoken to Fiona via telephone triage, it was obvious she required an assessment. We have had experiences where patients have bought over the counter medication and it has not been the appropriate treatment.

“We know quick and early intervention can save a lot of long-term issues and we would always recommend people speak to their optometrist first if they have an issue with their eye health, rather than other medical professionals.

“If I hadn’t have been able to quickly prescribe the medication required, Fiona would undoubtedly have ended up in hospital – placing even more strain on an already overstretched NHS at the worst possible time.

“While we are currently closed for routine appointments we still have a vital role to play in emergency cases like this and we have taken every possible precaution to protect the safety of both our patients and our staff.”

For more information on TK&S Optometrists, currently the UK’s Technology Practice of the Year, visit


Notes to editors

  • Further interviews are available upon request. To arrange, please call Daniel Owens from Orange Juice Communications on 07909 916668 or email [email protected]
  • For more information on Tompkins, Knight & Son Optometrists call 01604 714413 or visit
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