The Professional Standards Authority (PSA) has published its 2017–2018 Annual Performance Review in which it details that the General Optical Council (GOC) has met 22 of its 24 Standards for Good Regulation.
In the review, which covers between 1 October 2017 and 31 December 2018, the regulator met all standards of good regulation for its standards and education work, while it details that progress has been made with its management of fitness to practise (FTP) complaints.
The standards that the GOC failed to meet related to data errors on its register and the time that it takes to process fitness to practise complaints.
GOC chief executive and registrar, Lesley Longstone, said that the regulator welcomes the PSA’s report and feedback, adding: “We have endeavoured to improve the initial assessment activity we undertake at the triage stage when we receive a fitness to practise complaint, so we are pleased to see this is recognised in us meeting the relevant standard.”
Acknowledging the standards that the GOC failed to meet, Ms Longstone explained: “In respect of the data errors, we have now improved our standard operating procedures to ensure that post hearing, amendments to the register or registrant record are made at the appropriate time. We are confident that these improvements will address the Authority’s concerns in this area.”
The AOP’s interim head of professional discipline, Sam Thomas, highlighted that the PSA review “reinforces the fact that fitness to practise timelines remain a significant concern and the GOC needs to do more.”
He added: “These latest report findings emphasise the need for the new enhanced triage process, which is currently being piloted and was welcomed by the AOP earlier this month. We have been working with the GOC and the Optical Consumer Complaints Service on this and we are hopeful that the new system, if adopted widely, will help simplify what is often a long and cumbersome process. Current delays cause unnecessary distress to practitioners at an already difficult time, so we hope that the triage process will permit efforts to be concentrated on the most relevant cases, and that this will directly translate into more expeditious investigations.”
Speaking about the factual errors on the GOC register, Mr Thomas added: “It is vital for patients, the public and our members that the register is accurate and reliable so we are glad that the PSA has highlighted this issue and will continue to monitor performance in this area.”