Details of standards review emerge at GOC council meeting

A full agenda at this week’s meeting of the General Optical Council provided updates on the ongoing standards review, the public view of optics and the regulators upcoming office move

GOC logo on door
A ‘successful year’ for resolving optical complaints, updates on the standards review and an overwhelmingly positive public perception of the profession were all announced at a meeting of the General Optical Council (GOC) earlier this week (Wednesday, 13 May).

The council was updated on the current consultations around standards of practice. Since the launch of the standards review in March, the regulator has held a number of focus groups with patients, students and the GOC’s fitness to practise panel, including focus groups held with registrants at the recent Optrafair show in Birmingham. Council heard how an online survey has already canvassed responses from more than 2,000 registrants.

The GOC’s director of strategy, Alistair Bridge, said that in owing to the range of issues and large volume of responses from stakeholders: “We may take a little more time to finalise the standards and get them right.”

Chair of the GOC, Gareth Hadley, announced that the regulator will look to launch a follow-on review into education, training and accreditation, adding that “registrants need to be fully trained and up to date.” 

Mr Hadley told the council: “[Practitioners] need to have the competence to deliver the services expected of them by the public – by their patients and customers – in the years to come.” 

A presentation of GOC-commissioned research into public perceptions of the profession showed that 96% of those who had visited an optician in the last two years said they had received a ‘very high’ standard of care. Read the full report here.

The Optical Consumer Complaints Service (OCCS) also reported positive results in the past year. The OCCS has reportedly resolved 98.4% of the 622 complaints it received in the 2014/15 period, since Nockolds Solicitors took over the delivery of the service in 2014, with high levels of user satisfaction. Read the full report here.

Chief executive and registrar, Samantha Peters, provided an update on the GOC’s dealings with the Professional Standards Authority (PSA). The Department of Health (DH) is considering placing a levy on professional healthcare regulators to fund the PSA, and is looking to expand its work around how regulators manage risk, she said.

There was also an update on the GOC’s impending move. The regulator is set to relocate its London headquarters from its current offices in Harley Street (W1) to Farringdon, close to the AOP’s offices. Council, stakeholders and public gallery were given insight into the layout of the regulator’s new offices, which are expected to cost over £770,000 to fit out. A provisional moving date has been set for the weekend of 22–23 August.

The next council meeting is scheduled for 29 July.