AOP publishes response to the Opticians Act call for evidence
Member responses provide a “clear mandate” on future regulation, says AOP chief executive, Adam Sampson
21 July 2022
The AOP has published its response to the General Optical Council’s (GOC) call for evidence reviewing the Opticians Act 1989.
The response covers eight sections and draws on the findings of the AOP’s recent survey of 2445 members, as well as responses through its community forum, and engagement with the AOP’s Policy committee, Council and Board. This is in addition to sector body and UK country organisation engagement.
members responded to the AOP’s survey on the call for evidence, the largest number of any survey the AOP has recently conducted
Member feedback particularly highlighted the importance of maintaining appropriate legal restrictions on sight testing, with nearly nine in 10 respondents stating that it is not possible to safely separate the refractive and eye health elements of the sight test.
Adam Sampson, chief executive of the AOP, remarked on the “outstanding level of engagement” from members who “leave no doubt that the optometrist must remain in control of the clinical care throughout the sight test to protect patients.”
With the AOP supporting over 82% of practising optometrists on the GOC register, Sampson highlighted: “This is a significant proportion of the GOC’s registrants, providing a clear mandate on how the sight test should be regulated in the future, and it is vital the regulator listens carefully.”
The AOP’s submissionRead the AOP’s response to the call for evidence in full online.
Sections cover the GOC objectives for legislative reform, protection of title, restricted activities and registers, regulation of businesses, testing of sight, fitting of contact lenses, sale and supply of optical appliances, delivery of remote care and technology, and additional questions.
Closing the call for evidence this week, the GOC noted it had received “high interest” from across the profession, with approximately 350 stakeholders – including patients, the public, registrants, sector bodies and employers – contributing to the review.
Responses will be collated and analysed, the GOC confirmed, to assess the impact of proposed changes, or of making no change. Analysis will also consider any gaps in evidence that would require further research.
Thanking all those who contributed to the review, Leonie Milliner, GOC chief executive and registrar, said: “The high interest in the call for evidence was very encouraging to see and we will carefully assess all the feedback.”
Recommendations around proposals for additional work, and a timetable, will be made to the GOC Council in September. The GOC will also publish a full response in due course, to summarise the findings and set out next steps.
Any legislative reform to the Act is not expected to be implemented for several years, the GOC has said. This is in line with the Department of Health and Social Care’s (DHSC) timetable for planned reforms to regulators’ legislation.
The call for evidence: a summary
In March, the GOC opened its call for evidence on the need to change the Opticians Act 1989, and a consultation on associated policies. The call for evidence linked to planned reforms of health and social care regulators by the DHSC.
The call for evidence ran for 16 weeks, closing for submissions on 18 July, and seeking input from stakeholders across optometry.