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GOC registrant survey: four in 10 optometrists considering additional qualifications

A survey of 5000 optometrists and dispensing opticians has provided a snapshot of the optical workforce

optometrist and patient
Pixabay/ravinems

The General Optical Council (GOC) has published results from a survey of 5000 optometrists and dispensing opticians, as well as student optometrists and student dispensing opticians.

The results provide a snapshot of the challenges and aspirations for the optical workforce following the COVID-19 pandemic.

The GOC 2021 registrant survey highlighted that more than half (52%) of respondents had been furloughed by their employer or had their course suspended during the past year.

Four in 10 practitioners surveyed said they had worked beyond their hours during the pandemic, while 28% reported finding it difficult to provide patients with the level of care they required.

Of those surveyed, 45% of optometrists were considering studying towards additional qualifications within the next two years.

Asked how happy they were with their job, 58% of those surveyed reported being satisfied with their role over the past year.

Job satisfaction was higher among those who worked full-time, for an independent optical practice, in a hospital, in academia and within Wales and Northern Ireland. Those aged 55 and older also reported higher levels of job satisfaction.

Responding to questions on the impact of the pandemic, 26% of those surveyed said that the pandemic had a “significant” impact on their mental health and wellbeing while a further 52% said that the outbreak of COVID-19 had had “some” impact.

Turning to social distancing, 33% of those surveyed had experienced a lack of social distancing with members of the public while 26% reported instances of a lack of social distancing with other staff.

Close to one in four respondents (23%) said they had not been given enough time to adequately clean equipment while around one in 10 (9%) practitioners reported a lack of personal protective equipment.

Asked about their plans over the next two years, 36% of respondents planned to reduce their hours. This trend was more prevalent among optometrists, with four in ten optometrists planning to cut down their workload.

More than one in 10 respondents (13%) said they planned to retire within two years, while 12% planned to switch to locum work and 11% planned to take a career break.

Within the group of 5000 practitioners surveyed, 56% of respondents were optometrists, 25% were dispensing opticians, and 21% were either a student optometrist or student dispensing optician.