GOC retains Nockolds Solicitors as OCCS provider

The mediation service will continue the partnership it has had since 2014

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The General Optical Council (GOC) has retained Nockolds Solicitors as its chosen provider for the Optical Consumer Complaints Service (OCCS), following a competitive tender process.

The Hertfordshire-based firm has been awarded a new three-year contract to run the mediation service, with an optional one-year extension.

The OCCS, which is GOC-funded, exists to resolve complaints in the optical sector when a consumer and a practice cannot resolve the issue themselves. It currently has an 87% resolution rate via mediation.

Nockolds Solicitors has been the organisation’s chosen provider since 2014.

Carole Auchterlonie, director of regulatory operations at the GOC, said: “Nockolds has been instrumental in the success of the OCCS over the past ten years and their understanding of the optical sector is key to that success.

“They bring unique expertise and passion to the service, and we have seen first-hand how mediation has been game-changing for our sector.”

The OCCS’s method of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) is contributing to increased patient satisfaction, lower costs per complaint, and a reduction in cases being referred to fitness to practise proceedings, the GOC said.

Nockolds Solicitors’ ADR team is run by Jennie Jones, who has more than 20 years of experience in clinical dispute resolution in a regulatory setting.

Jones said: “We are thrilled to be continuing this established partnership. We’re looking forward to building upon our tried and tested work to date as well as implementing new plans.

“With eye healthcare and optical practices evolving through artificial intelligence, the transfer of more optical care to local and primary settings, and [the] technology with care pathways to improve and maintain patients’ vision like never before, the consumer/optical practice relationship is fundamental.”

She added: “As we enter into our 10th year in delivering the OCCS, we are keen to build on the work of the OCCS in supporting compassionate and confident interactions between consumers and optical professionals, and helping the sector to be fit for the future.”