Consultation on GOC registration for optical professionals trained overseas launched

The regulator has opened the consultation as part of its refreshed Education Training Requirements

Animation of a laptop and a paper form.
Getty/Alpaben Rathod

A consultation on future registration requirements for optometrists and dispensing opticians trained outside of the UK or Switzerland has been launched by the General Optical Council (GOC).

The consultation will gather views on how the GOC will manage overseas applications going forward, as part of the regulator’s new Education Training Requirements (ETR).

Currently, optical professionals who have qualified overseas and wish to join the GOC register are assessed against the GOC’s handbook requirements for optometry and ophthalmic dispensing.

If that assessment is successful, applicants then go on to undertake either the College of Optometrist’s Scheme for Registration or ABDO’s examinations.

The proposed revised approach would mean all applications for international registration will be assessed against the ETR. The GOC would no longer undertake individual registration assessments prior to an applicant applying to be admitted to a GOC-approved qualification.

It is hoped that these changes will streamline the process for application to the register, help meet anticipated patient demand, and address workforce shortages within the profession.

Changes could potentially be implemented from September 2026.

The regulator hopes to hear from optical professionals applying to join its register who gained their primary qualifications outside the UK, as well as education providers, sector bodies, optical businesses, patient groups, and other stakeholders.

It is also interested in seeing evidence of overseas qualifications that may be equivalent to UK qualifications under the ETR.

Steve Brooker, director of regulatory strategy at the GOC, said: “Optical professionals registered overseas are a growing and important part of the workforce. To maintain public safety, we need to revise our current requirements for applicants registered overseas to ensure their training and experience is in line with our updated education and training requirements for UK applicants.”

He added: “We encourage all stakeholders to respond to the consultation so we can reflect their views in the final policy changes.”

The consultation on the potential changes is open until 4 October 2023 and is hosted on the GOC Consultation Hub.