The General Optical Council (GOC) has published its new standards of practice.
Published yesterday (29 October) the new standards govern registered optometrists, dispensing opticians in the UK and will come into effect from 1 April next year. The regulator has also produced separate standards for optical students.
The GOC announced that the new standards have been emailed to all registrants and have also been published online and will be sent by post in December.
Chief executive and registrar of the GOC, Samantha Peters, said: “We have made important and positive changes to the standards we set for opticians. I urge all registrants to take the time to familiarise themselves with them before they come into force in April next year.”
All registrants will have to declare they have read and will abide by the new standards during the regulator’s retention process, as well as completing one piece of CET as part of the new three-year cycle (2016–2018), which starts on 1 January. Registrants will also have to complete at least one piece of Continuing Education and Training (CET) on standards as part of the 2016–18 cycle.
Ms Peters said: “The standards have been designed to make clearer what we expect of registrants, and to maintain public protection as the optical professions develop. They also ensure consistency with developments across the healthcare sector, such as a duty to be candid when things have gone wrong.”
The chief executive and registrar added: “The standards are not a rule book – they give room for registrants to use their professional judgement in deciding how to apply the standards in any given situation. It is therefore vital that all registrants make sure they are confident in applying them to their practice.”
Both sets of standards will replace the existing code of conduct for GOC registrants. Their publication follows an extensive consultation process with stakeholders across the optical sector, which included submissions from the Association of Optometrists (AOP).
The GOC stated that it is also updating its code of conduct for business registrants ‘to make clear that businesses should support their employees in meeting their obligations under the new standards.’
Commenting on the regulator’s new standards, Trevor Warburton, chairman of AOP’s Policy Committee, said: “We welcome the news that the GOC has committed to update its Code of Conduct for business registrants to make it clear that businesses should support their employees to fulfil these new standards. We will continue to work with the GOC to ensure that all businesses carry out their responsibilities of care to the public and allow employees the professional freedom to do the same. We look forward to working with the GOC, whilst continuing to campaign for our members’ best interests.”
Mr Warburton added: We will continue to work with the GOC to ensure that all businesses carry out their responsibilities of care to the public and allow employees the professional freedom to do the same. We look forward to working with the GOC, whilst continuing to campaign for our members’ best interests.”
Head of CPD for the College of Optometrists, Lucy Joseph, told OT: “We’re looking at the detail for the new CET cycle and will be talking to the GOC to ensure that we’re able to give the best advice and support to our members and ensure our CPD provision enables them to meet the new requirements in full.”