How is the AOP… changing its Council in 2021?

The AOP has revised the structure of the Council from 2021, creating new opportunities to represent members. OT  found out more

AOP gavel
The AOP Council elections will be held this spring, with new opportunities for members to represent the views of optometrists in core areas of the profession. Nominations will open in February and voting will take place in March.

With the Council elections paused in 2020 as a result of the pandemic, the AOP’s policy team took the opportunity to consider a refresh.

Speaking to OT, AOP policy officer, Jacqueline May, explained: “The previous structure of AOP Council had been in place since 2015 and we felt that now was the right time to make changes.

“The changes will help to ensure that Council continues to make a strong contribution to our policy development and other work, and adequately represents our diverse membership and its range of needs and interests.”

The number of Councillors will remain the same, though there will be a greater proportion of designated positions and new positions have also been created.

The new Council will have one elected seat in each of the constituencies in England, one each in Wales and Northern Ireland, and two in Scotland.

“Given the increasing divergence in NHS commissioning and Government health policy in each part of the UK, we decided to have a mix of elected and designated representatives for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland,” Ms May continued.

The role of the Council

AOP Councillors help to ensure that member’s views are represented in policymaking.

“Councillors have told us that being part of the AOP Council is a rewarding experience, with opportunities to develop new skills, network and to help bring about positive change to the future of the profession,” Ms May said.

The Councillors can refer members to the right person within the AOP for advice and support, and they are also involved in encouraging membership of the AOP.

Reflecting of the role of the Council, Ms May shared: “From the policy team’s perspective, responding to consultations and creating guidance, in a way that brings benefit to our members and ensures the AOP stays relevant, would be impossible without input from Councillors.

“Councillors also help to flag up emerging issues for discussion which can lead to new policy and guidance.”

The application process

Nominations for vacancies on the AOP Council open on 10 February and close on 1 March. For information about the vacancies and on how to apply visit Elections 2021.

“We are looking for passionate members to put themselves forward to become AOP Council representatives. No previous experience is required,” Ms May said.

The designated Council positions will also be open for application from 10 February. The AOP Appointments Committee will appoint a Councillor for each position from among the applicants.

Get involved

Voting in 2021 will happen in the same way as in previous elections, opening from 12 March and closing on 26 March.

Members who have more than one candidate standing in their constituency will receive an email from Civica Electoral Services, the independent facilitator appointed to handle the election process. Results for the Council will be announced in May.

Ms May said: “As well as nominating yourself for one of the posts, one of the best ways to participate in your membership organisation is to use your vote.”