The General Optical Council (GOC) has welcomed the Department of Health’s decision to carry out a consultation on healthcare regulator reform.
The Department of Health said that any reforms will streamline the current system to improve patient protection.
Chief executive of the GOC, Vicky McDermott, explained to OT that reform could help the regulator operate more efficiently and effectively.
“Some of the key benefits we would be seeking, include changes to our fitness to practise powers to help us speed the process up,” she said.
This would include full consensual disposal powers, changes to its governance structure, and an increased ability to set out more of its own rules, particularly around continuing education and training.
Ms McDermott also told OT that the GOC is encouraged by the emphasis placed in the consultation document on regulators providing greater support to its registrants in delivering high quality care.
“Any changes which are considered should examine the impact on public and patient protection and not just cost and efficiency,” she said.
The Department of Health’s proposals could lead to the reduction in the number of regulatory bodies, from nine to as few as three or four.
The GOC said that a new regulatory structure should be based on evidence of the benefits to public safety and recognise the rate at which change and innovation occurs in the optical sector.
“The consultation makes clear that the Government is interested in a range of different ways in which efficiencies might be generated, for example the sharing of back-office functions,” Ms McDermott shared.
McDermott added that the GOC will be responding to the consultation ahead of the 23 January deadline and is encouraging others in the sector to do so as well.