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Some GOC cases to be processed without contested hearing

Certain fitness to practise cases where the registrant admits the allegation in full will be dealt with under a new consensual panel disposal policy

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The General Optical Council (GOC) has introduced a new policy that will mean some fitness to practise cases are processed without a contested hearing.

The consensual panel disposal policy will be used to identify and progress certain fitness to practise cases where the registrant has admitted the allegation in full. 

As part of the process, the GOC will agree on an appropriate level of sanction with the registrant before this recommendation is presented to the fitness to practise committee.

A consultation on the new policy was held between August and September 2017, with the GOC reporting that “encouraging support” was received from responding stakeholders.

The GOC’s director of fitness to practise, Lisa Davis, highlighted that it is hoped people on all sides will benefit from the policy.

“The consensual panel disposal policy will encourage registrants to participate in the fitness to practise process, and will give us the flexibility to adapt the process to each individual case. Most importantly, consensual panel disposal will help us to deal with cases expeditiously in order to protect the public,” she emphasised.
Legal and regulatory director for the AOP, Gerda Goldinger, said that the policy is a step in the right direction.

“It means some cases can be disposed of without a full and unnecessary hearing,” she highlighted.

“However, the changes to date mean that very few cases will in reality be dealt with by consensual disposal. We therefore hope that this is just the first of many decisions to reduce the inevitable stress that is suffered by our members who face fitness to practise hearings – particularly when there are other acceptable ways to resolve issues that come before the GOC,” Ms Goldinger concluded.