GOC sustains gains in fitness to practise timeliness

For the second year in a row, the optical regulator has met all 18 Standards of Good Regulation set by the Professional Standard Authority

A wooden reception desk with the word ‘welcome’ printed in white letters sits in front of a grey wall. On the wall, the blue lettering of the General Optical Council logo is printed.

The General Optical Council (GOC) has met all 18 Standards of Good Regulation in the latest review of the regulator’s performance by the Professional Standards Authority (PSA).

The optical regulator sustained improvements in the timeliness of fitness to practise investigations as part of the PSA’s monitoring report, which covers the period 1 January 2023 to 31 December 2023.

Last year was the first time that the GOC had met the timeliness standard in seven years.

“The GOC is now carrying out a further programme of work to build on its improvements,” the PSA observed.

The PSA also recognised the work that the optical regulator has done on equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI).

“[The GOC] continues to use data and other evidence to identify areas for further work, such as producing a joint statement with stakeholders on zero tolerance to bullying, harassment, abuse and discrimination following the findings of its registrant survey,” the PSA highlighted.

The PSA acknowledged how the GOC has implemented its education and training requirements, quality assuring adaptations for more than half of existing providers.

GOC chair, Dr Anne Wright, described the results of the PSA review as the culmination of the hard work and dedication of GOC staff and members.

“The report is testament to our commitment to maintain the positive changes made in relation to the timeliness of fitness to practise investigations and we will continue to make further improvements,” she said.

GOC chief executive and registrar, Leonie Milliner, shared the optical regulator’s commitment to continuing to build on its positive performance.

“Our progress in supporting providers of GOC approved qualifications to meet our new education and training requirements has been a notable achievement, alongside our work in EDI and the positive engagement with stakeholders in our work to revise and update our professional standards,” she said.

AOP head of professional discipline, Scott Shadbolt, welcomed the compliance of the GOC with all of the standards set by the PSA.

“Notwithstanding that compliance however, there are still areas in which the GOC could and should improve,” he said.

Shadbolt highlighted that over the past year, the AOP has raised concerns with the GOC, including around the publication of fitness to practise (FTP) decisions in error and how the Alternative Panel Disposal policy has been applied.

“Whilst it is acknowledged that policy and procedures are in place, it is troubling that the GOC does not follow or comply with them on occasion. It is also concerning that in both instances the GOC was alerted to the relevant issues by an external party,” he said.

Shadbolt emphasised that the AOP looks forward to working with the GOC over the next year in order to further improve the regulator’s performance, ensuring that investigations are carried out quickly and fairly.

“This will include engaging with the GOC’s FTP Improvement Programme as far as possible in addition to continuing to raise issues and concerns that impact members to the attention of the GOC whenever necessary,” he said.