AOP calls for members’ views on the GOC’s Opticians Act call for evidence

The Association is asking members to share their thoughts on a range of topics included in the regulator’s call for evidence

opticians act
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The AOP is calling for members to share their thoughts on the future regulation of artificial intelligence, technology and remote care in relation to the General Optical Council’s (GOC) call for evidence on the Opticians Act

The GOC launched its call for evidence on the Opticians Act at the end of March – it is linked to planned reforms of health and social care regulators by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC).

Through the consultation, the GOC is calling for views and evidence on a range of topics, including sight testing duties, the protection of title and restricted activities, remote care, and the regulation of businesses. The review also asks for evidence and views on the delegation of refraction in the sight test.

To support members in understanding the consultation, the AOP has created a frequently asked questions section on its website, where members can also learn more about what the AOP is doing in response.

Welcoming the GOC’s call for evidence from the sector before it presents proposals to the DHSC, the AOP’s director of policy, Carolyn Ruston, emphasised that “this review could lead to some of the most seismic changes to the profession in decades.”

She explained: “We are working closely with our sector partners in the development of our response as we feel any proposed changes to the Act as a result of this consultation should be based on where there is a strong patient benefit or need.”

What the AOP is doing?

Since the beginning of May, the AOP has been asking members to get in touch and share their thoughts on a range of topics referenced in the consultation, including the sale and supply of optical appliances, the GOC’s regulation of additional qualifications and the sight test – refraction and eye health check.

More than 60 responses have already been submitted on the AOP’s forum relating to the sight test – refraction and eye health checks.

Commenting on the concept of delegation, the AOP’s clinical and professional director, Dr Peter Hampson, said: “We believe that the Opticians Act already succeeds in its stated aim of protecting patients and safeguarding professional delivery of care. Maintaining appropriate legal restrictions on sight testing is vital to ensure eye disease is detected and referred appropriately.

“There are areas where the Act may need updating in response to possible risks to patients from new ways of delivering eye care, so we welcome the fact that the GOC has asked for views about regulating remote care, emerging technology and online services and products.”

Currently the Association is calling for thoughts on artificial intelligence, technology and remote care, while next week it will be issuing a call for views on contact lens fitting and business regulation.
The call for evidence runs for 16 weeks and will close on 18 July. AOP members are encouraged to share their views on the topics covered in the consultation on the AOP’s forums. Alternatively, they can email the AOP’s policy team directly: [email protected]