GOC opens consultation on new five-year strategy

The draft strategy, under the proposed vision of Safe and effective eye care for all, will guide the GOC’s work between 2025–2030

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The General Optical Council (GOC) has launched a consultation on a new draft strategy that will guide the regulator’s work over a five-year period between 1 April 2025 and 31 March 2030.

The consultation closes on 10 July and feedback will inform the development of the final strategy, due in early 2025.

The draft strategy includes a proposed vision of Safe and effective eye care for all.

While the regulator’s focus will remain on protecting the public, the GOC outlined plans to update the language used in its mission statement to reflect changing terminology in the sector: ‘To protect the public by upholding high standards in eye care services.’

The draft strategy is underpinned by three strategic objectives: creating fairer and more inclusive eye care services, supporting responsible innovation and protecting the public, and preventing harm through agile regulation.

The GOC’s current strategy, Fit for the future, began on 1 April 2020 and will end on 31 March 2025.

Chair, Dr Anne Wright CBE, said the GOC seeks to build on achievements made through the delivery of the Fit for the future strategy, “with an ambitious plan of work for the next five years.”

“From 2025–2030, we expect to see significant changes across the sector which will affect the optical professionals we register, the patients they care for, and how this care is delivered,” she explained.

Acknowledging that, when the Fit for the future strategy was launched in early 2020, “we could not have predicted how our day-to-day lives would soon alter dramatically,” Wright commented: “It is crucial that our next strategy has the flexibility to meet all the challenges, both anticipated and unprecedented, that may come in 2025–30.”

Wright shared that the GOC aims to become more agile in response to developments in technology, business models, and the workforce, and “preventing harm before it arises.”

“We will support registrants to deliver more clinical eye care by realising the full benefits of our education and training reforms, while also helping to reduce barriers to patients accessing services and ensuring that those in vulnerable circumstances receive high quality care,” she concluded.

Reflecting on achievements made during the five years covered by its current strategy, the GOC shared that it has conducted a strategic review of education, introduced its Council Associates programme, and delivered a new continuing professional development scheme.

A call for evidence on the Opticians Act 1989 and associated policies brought forward “critical considerations for future work,” the GOC noted.

The regulator has made “significant improvements” to internal processes, the GOC shared, demonstrated in meeting all 18 of the Professional Standards Authority’s (PSA) Standards of Good Regulation for the second year running.

In its performance review, the PSA noted the GOC’s work to improve time taken to progress fitness to practise cases, and its performance on equality, diversity, and inclusion.

Carolyn Ruston, AOP policy director, commented: “We are reviewing the detail of the GOC’s draft five-year strategy. This consultation offers an important opportunity to feed into the strategic direction of our profession and how the regulator looks to support the evolving role of optometrists in primary eye care delivery, alongside education and training. We will look to provide comprehensive feedback from the membership – engaging on key topics over the consultation period to inform our response.”

The consultation on the draft strategy for 2025–30 can be accessed on the GOC Consultation Hub in English and Welsh, while responses can also be sent directly by email.

The GOC is encouraging registrants to attend the engagement event on its strategy consultation, which will take place online on Wednesday 22 May. The event will take place from 2pm–3.30pm and will see the GOC’s CEO and director of regulatory strategy discussing the regulator's strategy for the next five years. Registrants can reserve a spot online.