New Stonehaven couple impress with optical care

By Eddie Boyd

A NEW power couple have impressed customers since joining a local opticians last year.

Talhah and Fatima Akhtar moved to Stonehaven when Talhah was presented with an opportunity to become store director of the Specsavers store on Market Square after spending the last 10 years in Glasgow.

Talhah and Fatima, now the store director and specialist optometrist respectively, at Stonehaven’s Specsavers, have made significant changes since taking over the store in April last year.

Coming from his role as regional chair for Specsavers in the West of Scotland, Talhah has managed to cut waiting lists for appointments, now being able to offer same-day appointments to most. 

The most significant change has been increasing opening hours to 8:30am – 7pm during the week, whilst also altering weekend hours too, opening 9am – 5.30pm on Saturday and 10am – 4pm on Sunday.

Talhah has also invested in state-of-the-art customer service technology to reduce admin time for staff, which has been praised by regular and new customers alike as it means more time can be given to care for their needs.

Fatima is a MECS trained optometrist, meaning she is qualified for specialist work such as dealing with excessive discharge or removing foreign objects from the eye. Since arriving to Stonehaven, Fatima has also completed the Local Enhanced Service (LES) training, part of the Eye Health Network (EHN) under NHS Grampian, permitting her to co-prescribe for certain eye conditions at a community practice level.

Having Fatima’s skills on board has bolstered the store’s reputation as a hub for specialist eye care treatment, receiving referral appointments from other providers in the area who do not have the facilities or expertise to address certain issues on-site. This collaborative approach ensures that the community has access to top-notch eye care services in times of need.

Talhah says: ‘I was teased by the picturesque images of the harbour and the idea of a slightly quieter life from Glasgow. The many warm and sincerely caring people we have met since moving has made us feel completely at home. The town has been truly wonderful to us and we want to make sure we are giving something back.

‘There was a lot to do in the first few months, but we’ve managed to get our house in order and things are looking much better. We’re proud of how we’ve changed things as a team to suit the community, making sure people can get those appointments when they need them most.

‘We’ve implemented more training for some of our staff, and should soon have a couple of Independent Prescribers, meaning that we can dispense medicines for certain treatments without the need for GP intervention.’

When discussing his career so far, Talhah says: ‘I’ve been so blessed with people that have taken my development seriously throughout my career and I want  the store to offer the same for people in the area. We are always looking to the future, so I’d love for young people who are unsure of what to do to come and talk to us. This is a trade that often gets overlooked by schools but one I’ve never looked back on.’

To book an appointment or reach out about career development, visit the store at 33 Market Square or call 01569 768770.

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