The Association of Optometrists (AOP) today launches Who’s got your back? – a campaign designed to highlight legal issues faced by optical professionals and what support is available.
Last year around one in four members picked up the phone to seek advice from the AOP’s in-house legal and regulatory experts. While many queries would have been dealt with quickly, others that are more complex will take years to resolve.
For the campaign, the AOP has produced new videos – telling the real-life stories of two members who were keen to share their experience to help those who find themselves in a similar situation. Both faced a General Optical Council (GOC) investigation, arriving at a Fitness to Practice hearing for different reasons.
The videos, which feature anonymous interviews, shine a spotlight on the GOC investigation process, how stressful it can be for individuals, and the vital work of the AOP legal team in this area.
Jenny, who had a case brought against her by a former employer, has 25 years’ experience as an optometrist. She explains what it was like to receive the complaint: “You feel embarrassed, ashamed. It’s just horrible. I think if you are somebody who tries to be a good optometrist, to have something like that come through the post is utterly devastating.”
Speaking about the support received from the AOP legal team, Jenny said: “Due to the absolute expertise and diligence of my AOP team, it went into submission after the first week and the case got slung out with no case to answer. Ultimately, if it had gone the wrong way, I might not be an optometrist anymore, which would have been catastrophic for me.”
Sam had been qualified as an optometrist for 15 years before a patient made a claim against him: “Receiving the letter from the GOC in the post will go down as the worst day of my life. Realising that you made a mistake is the worst feeling you could ever go through as a professional. I sat there, I cried, I went home and then I rang the AOP.”
Sam added: “It was one of the most humbling experiences being able to read the references that were given by friends, colleagues and patients. The support was amazing. Once it was all done and dusted, the weight lifted off my shoulders almost instantly.”
Louisa Cliff, Marketing Manager at the AOP, explains why this campaign was important: “The stories of members who find themselves at the sharp end of an investigation are devastatingly real, and the knowledge and support our legal team provides is unique and invaluable. With this campaign, we wanted to find a way to tell their stories anonymously, and showcase the vital work of our legal team who become relied-upon and expert confidantes in the lives of these members at very stressful times.”
To find out more visit, www.aop.org.uk/gotyourback
For more information, please contact Serena Box, PR and Media Manager, at the Association of Optometrists, SerenaBox@aop.org.uk or telephone 020 7549 2063.
Notes to Editors
Association of Optometrists
The Association of Optometrists (AOP) is the leading representative membership organisation for optometrists in the UK. We support our community of more than 17,000 members to fulfil their professional roles to protect the nation’s eye health. As a founding member of the Optical Confederation we work with others to improve eye health for the public good. For more information, visit www.aop.org.uk
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