Member stories

Arun's story

Arun talks about the employment law support and union representation he received from the AOP when a past employer pressured him to speed up his testing time, and then threatened a capability process. Arun has since taken a new position elsewhere where he feels more supported by his employer.  


AOP Peer Support Line

The AOP Peer Support Line 0800 8708401 provides free and confidential support to anyone in optics, you don’t have to be a member to call. 

If you’re feeling pressured, overwhelmed or anxious, talking things through in a dedicated, non-judgemental and completely anonymous space can help bring clarity and a sense of control. 

Calls are answered 24 hours a day, by an external answering service, with trained volunteers on duty to return calls between 8am and 8pm.

Calls are completely anonymous and only a first name or alias will be requested.

You will be able to talk through the issues affecting you in complete confidence. No advice will be given, but you may be offered other sources of support, where relevant, to help you reach a resolution or take action.


Claims over clinical negligence

Most practitioners will receive a complaint at some point in their career, and when this happens it's important to deal with it properly as this can significantly reduce the risk of the complaint escalating unnecessarily.

Complaints may be directed to the individual practitioner, the employer, or another body such as the GOC, NHS, Optical Consumer Complaints Service (OCCS), or the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO).

The AOP is here to protect, represent and support its members, so if you become aware of a complaint against you, please contact the legal team for advice as soon as possible.

Referring patients safely

It's very important that referrals are made with the correct degree of urgency and to the appropriate place. You should ensure that you are familiar with local referral protocols and pathways, and clearly indicate the degree of urgency on the referral. In most areas, the urgency of referrals will be either:

  • Emergency (within 24 hours); or
  • Urgent (within 1 week); or
  • Routine

When referring a patient, we do not recommend using the word ‘soon’ to describe the level of urgency as this is open to interpretation; wherever possible, try to give a specific timeframe in which you think the patient should be seen, as outlined above.

Please note that the waiting time for a ‘routine’ referral can vary significantly between areas. If you are unsure whether the patient will be seen within an appropriate timeframe if they are referred routinely, you should consider referring the patient ‘urgently’ instead. If you decide that ‘routine’ is the appropriate level of urgency, make sure that all relevant information has been included with the referral, to assist the clinic in triaging the referral accurately.

Karen's story

Karen talks about the reassurance and legal support she received from the AOP over a 15 month period, after receiving a letter from a patient's solicitor. In the end Karen's case was dropped and no further action was taken.

Jenny's story

Jenny shares her experience of being subject to four year-long GOC investigation, and how the support she received from the AOP eventually led to the GOC finding that there was no evidence of wrong doing and no case to answer.    

Sam's story

Sam talks about the support he received from his AOP solicitor throughout his two and a half year GOC investigation and Fitness to Practise hearing, where the GOC found his fitness to practise was not impaired.