GOC launches fitness to practise learning bulletin

The first edition, available now, focuses on the triage stage of the FtP process

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The General Optical Council (GOC) has launched a new learning bulletin for registrants, focusing on the fitness to practise (FtP) process.

The bulletin, entitled FtP Focus, will be published quarterly and will provide insight into the types of concerns the GOC receives and how it assesses them at every stage of investigation.

FtP Focus will include case studies, reflection points, advisory tips, and insight from the Optical Consumer Complaints Service.

It will also highlight relevant Standards and CET that will enable registrants to improve their practice and minimise any risks that could endanger the public or have the potential to damage the reputation of the profession.

The first edition, which is available for download now from the GOC website, focuses on triage, the first stage of the FtP process. 

The next edition will focus on the investigation stage and will be available in early 2021.

Dionne Spence, director of casework and resolutions at the GOC, said: “Through conversations with practitioners, students and businesses who have either gone through the FtP process themselves or have heard about it through others, we became aware that there is a lot of work we can do to dispel some of the myths around FtP and also provide valuable insight into how we approach concerns when they are raised.”

She added: “Even though many registrants will not have any involvement with FtP, we know that the fear of ever receiving a notification from us can be overwhelming and we hope we can do something about that.

“The reality is we only receive initial concerns about less than 1% of our registrants, which shows the high-quality care the majority of our registrants deliver. The purpose of the FtP process is not to punish, but to ensure that we consider all concerns raised in a timely, fair and transparent manner.”

The AOP’s head of professional discipline, Cassandra Dighton, said: “The Professional Discipline Team at the AOP is acutely aware not only of the potential impact a GOC referral can have on the wellbeing of our members, but also of the fear that many registrants have of their regulator, which can adversely affect clinical practice. As a defence organisation we are constantly working to share case studies and learning from our work representing the profession to improve understanding of regulation.

“The GOC’s new FtP Focus learning bulletin is another positive step towards de-mystifying fitness to practise processes, which in turn will allay fear of the organisation. The case studies and learning points are extremely valuable to all registrants and we encourage our members to read the bulletins.

“We do, however, remind our members that the bulletin is no substitute for legal advice and invite them to contact the Professional Discipline team should they need specialist advice.”

The AOP’s legal team can be contacted at [email protected]

For more information on FtP Focus, follow the GOC’s Twitter account and LinkedIn page.