GOC launches consultation on COVID-19 statements

The consultation seeks feedback on the GOC’s existing COVID-19 statements and how these should apply in different phases of the pandemic

Pexels/ Karolina Grabowska

The General Optical Council (GOC) has launched a public consultation to gather views on the content and impact of its current coronavirus (COVID-19) statements and how these should apply in the future, as different areas of the UK experience local and national restrictions.

The GOC is seeking views around its COVID-19 statements, published to “remove unnecessary regulatory barriers, clarify certain areas of practice and reinforce existing guidance,” in order to support registrants delivering care during the pandemic. The statements also outlined amendments to GOC regulatory functions in areas such as fitness to practise and education.

The consultation will ask for feedback on when the GOC’s existing COVID-19 statements should apply moving forward, linked to the red-amber-green phased system of the pandemic as set out by The College of Optometrists.

The consultation is also seeking views on the content and impact of the GOC’s existing COVID-19 statements. This will consider whether there are further areas of GOC regulations, legislation or guidance that would need to change or be put in place to ensure more effective regulation in the future, either during a pandemic or as a result of the pandemic.

Commenting on the publication of the COVID-19 statements, Marcus Dye, GOC acting director of strategy, shared: “We knew early on that some of our legislation and regulations may prevent registrants from being able to deliver care effectively during a pandemic, particularly remote care delivery.”

As the GOC moved to quickly implement the statements, Mr Dye explained, this meant the regulator was only able to consult with a small number of key stakeholders in the optical and healthcare sectors.

“We are consulting more widely now as it’s extremely important to us that we seek feedback from our registrants, patients and the public to ensure that our statements remain effective and we can consider how they should apply in different phases of the current or any future pandemic,” Mr Dye added.

The COVID-19 statements published over the past few months included a joint regulatory statement which outlined the approach to regulation during the pandemic, a joint statement on remote consultation and prescribing, and a statement on the supply of spectacles and contact lenses, among other areas of practice and training.

The current COVID-19 statements will remain in place pending the outcome of the consultation, with the review dates extended to 31 January 2021. The review dates for the CET provision statement has been extended to 31 December 2021.

The consultation will close on 7 January 2021 and individuals can respond to the consultation through the GOC Consultation Hub.