Optometry degree apprenticeships consultation

The AOP's response and how you can contribute your views

We have recently submitted the AOP’s consultation response, focusing on the significant risks we think the proposal would create. Our response reflects the views and concerns our members have shared with us in recent weeks.

The key arguments we have made are summarised below. We hope these points will be helpful to AOP members who want to submit their own responses to the consultation. The deadline for responses has recently been extended from 9 December to 10 January 2020.

You can read the full AOP consultation response here.

We have included a step-by-step guide showing how to navigate the consultation survey at the end of this page. 

Why we’re opposing a degree apprenticeship for optometry

We think the key reasons for opposing an optometry apprenticeship are:

1. Risks to patient safety

  • A mainly workplace-based route to registration as an optometrist, in optical practices with a strong retail focus, will not equip students with the patient-centred ethos, the depth of academic supervision, and the full range of scientific and clinical skills needed to:
    • Develop into a safe practitioner in a range of clinical settings
    • Withstand the recognised commercial pressures on optometrists
  • The GOC has a key role in approving all new routes to registration as fit for purpose, but we doubt it could ensure appropriate standards of training and supervision if students spend the majority of their time in retail-focused settings

2. Risks to professional credibility and public confidence

  • The proposal would damage the credibility of the profession with patients, and other healthcare professionals, at a time when primary care optical practices have a vital and growing role in meeting the rising demand for eye healthcare from an ageing population

3. The benefits of this proposal do not justify the risks

  • It can be hard for employers to find optometrists in some parts of the UK, and in principle we support the aim of encouraging students – including those from disadvantaged backgrounds – into the profession. But there are other ways of tackling these issues, without the risks to patient safety and the credibility of the profession that this proposal creates

Next steps

We are setting up further discussions with relevant organisations, to make sure they understand our members’ views and the reasons why this proposal shouldn’t go ahead.

We’ll keep you updated on developments.

How to submit your own views to the consultation

If you want to make your own submission to the consultation, follow these steps before the consultation closes on 10 January 2020.

  1. First, write down the points you want to make in your own words, in a stand-alone document (because it may be difficult to do this when you’re in the middle of completing the survey, particularly if you have several points to make)
  2. Open the degree apprenticeship standard consultation survey page  
  3. Scroll to the bottom of the page and click the ‘Next’ button  
  4. Complete questions 1 – 5 with your own details (questions 6 – 8 are optional)
  5. Then click ‘Next’ on each of the following 19 pages -  you don’t need to enter anything else on these pages, unless you want to comment on the draft degree apprenticeship Standard itself 
  6. Stop on the page titled ‘Final thoughts’ – and labelled as question 52 
  7. Enter the comments you’ve composed into box 52 and click ‘submit’