What next? AOP Council considers the future of the profession

Blue-sky thinking was on the agenda at the last AOP Council meeting


The General Optical Council’s (GOC) Business Standards and the future of optometry were discussed at the latest AOP Council meeting (20 March, London).

AOP chief executive, Henrietta Alderman, delivered a presentation outlining the AOP’s strategy and objectives for 2019.

She also detailed some of the AOP’s achievements over the past year centred around the theme of education, including the Creating healthy, low-stress optical practices guide, the Voice of Optometry survey, Don’t Swerve a Sight Test campaign and children’s eye health supplement.

“I think it’s important to look back and see what we’ve achieved so we know what we are building on,” she shared.

She highlighted that over the past five years the AOP’s market share has risen by over 6%.

The AOP’s focus in 2019 is on the theme of influence, Ms Alderman said.

Using the collective strength and expertise of the AOP membership to inform policy was a key priority in membership surveys conducted by the Association, she emphasised.

AOP policy director, Tony Stafford, introduced a group discussion on the future of the profession to inform AOP planning and policy messaging.

He highlighted that leading the sector’s thinking on the topic is one of the AOP’s strategic objectives for 2019.

“Everyone has their own set of assumptions about what the future will be and those really are quite varied…We want to develop a shared view of the future of optometry,” he said.

He added that this is a large objective and will take some time to accomplish. It also ties in with the work of the GOC in its Education Strategic Review.

As part of group discussions, AOP Councillors considered future professional roles in eye care and cast their predictions about the education and training of optical professionals in the future.

They also shared their views on how these changes may influence the services that the AOP should provide for members.

AOP communications director, Vicky Vine, led a discussion on a potential new membership benefit, followed by an update from Mr Stafford on the GOC’s Business Standards which are scheduled to take effect from October.

He added that the AOP is developing guidance on what the standards mean for optical professionals and businesses.