GOC publishes updated CPD exceptions policy

The policy applies to the current CPD cycle ending 31 December 2024 and outlines factors the regulator would consider when deciding on an application of exceptional circumstances

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 released its continuing professional development (CPD) exceptions policy for the CPD cycle ending 31 December 2024.

The policy sets out the principles the GOC would apply in consideration of applications of exceptional circumstances where an individual has not met the necessary CPD requirements for the cycle, and outlines the regulator’s expectations in regards to maternity, paternity, and adoption leave.

The updated policy reflects the change from continuing education and training (CET) to CPD.

Reference to the COVID-19 pandemic has also been removed from Paragraph 4.1 of the policy.

An additional factor that the GOC will consider when deciding whether to retain an individual’s registration has been added, based on whether the registrant has completed a personal development plan (PDP) and the reflective exercise.

The policy states that: “Failure to evidence satisfactory completion of these requirements will not of themselves be grounds for removal from the register, but would be considered mitigating or aggravating factors alongside our consideration of a shortfall in requirements.”

A number of examples of decisions from previous cycles are included in the document, along with the process for submitting an application of exceptional circumstances.

The AOP has published a guide to the new CPD exceptions policy, including a summary of the changes and what help is available for members.

The AOP highlighted: “The policy makes it clear that it is important that registrants look to meet all of the CPD requirements by the end of the cycle if at all possible.”

Commenting on the publication of the document, Scott Shadbolt, AOP head of professional discipline, said: “The AOP is pleased that the GOC has published the latest version of this policy in advance of the end of the CPD cycle later in the year. It is important in ensuring that members can make informed decisions as to whether to make an application under this policy.”

“It is, however, noted that there is no indication of how long members will have to make an application once the CPD cycle has ended. The AOP will seek clarity on this point,” he continued.

Shadbolt added: “If any member is considering making an application under this policy, I would encourage them to contact the professional discipline team at the AOP for assistance, and before contacting the GOC directly.” 

The GOC shared in a statement to OT: “We recognise that it will not always be proportionate to remove a registrant who does not meet their statutory minimum CPD requirements. The CPD exceptions policy applies to all fully qualified registrants who have not been able to meet their CPD requirements but can, exceptionally, demonstrate that their retention on the register would not risk public protection or undermine the public interest.”

“The policy outlines the principles our Registrar will apply in deciding whether a registrant can remain on the register without having met the requirements, to ensure decisions are made in a fair and consistent manner,” the GOC statement continued, adding: “At the end of the cycle, we will contact registrants who have not met their CPD requirements and share with them our CPD exceptions policy and timings for making a CPD exceptions application.”

This article was updated on 23 May 2024 to include a statement from the GOC.