Four in five FTP cases closed by case examiners

The General Optical Council has launched a four-month pilot of an enhanced triage process for fitness to practise investigations

The General Optical Council (GOC) will trial a new process aimed at improving the triaging of fitness to practise investigations.

The four-month pilot will give the optical regulator greater discretion to close cases at an earlier stage where there is no ongoing risk to public.

The trial will involve additional queries before a formal investigation is opened where it is unclear whether a complaint or referral raises a fitness to practise concern.

The GOC’s director of casework and resolutions, Dionne Spence, said that the enhanced triage process would mean that in the majority of cases registrants would be made aware of complaints at an earlier stage and before any decision had been made to launch a formal investigation.

“Last year, our case examiners closed 84% of the fitness to practise investigations that they considered. It is therefore clear to us that we need to enhance the initial assessment activity we undertake at triage stage,” she highlighted.

The triage process underpinned by the GOC’s acceptance criteria, which was launched in 2018 and updated in July this year.

The criteria help case examiners to assess which complaints or referrals may constitute an allegation of impaired fitness to practise to fitness to train.

The AOP’s interim head of professional discipline, Sam Thomas, described the launch of the pilot as a “more pragmatic approach” towards fitness to practise investigations.

“We have been working with the GOC and Optical Consumer Complaints Service (OCCS) on the acceptance criteria and believe that it will improve the often long and cumbersome fitness to practise process that some members have to face. Our hope is that the pilot is successful and that the criteria is expanded in the future. We encourage all members to cooperate with the GOC on the new acceptance criteria, and also with the OCCS when they are involved,” he highlighted.