FAQs for members on the GOC’s Revised Standards of Practice for Optometrists and Dispensing Opticians, March 2024

What the General Optical Council consultation covers, and how to get involved with our response

Why is the General Optical Council (GOC) launching this consultation?

The GOC sets an overarching set of standards that provides minimum expectations for registrants in terms of their professional behaviour. If followed, they deliver effective public protection and confidence in optometrists. The GOC last refreshed their standards in 2016, following a consultation conducted in 2015.  Over the last eight years, changing patient expectations, enhanced clinical responsibilities and technological developments have led to evolution in the sector. Reviewing these standards is essential to ensure that they remain relevant and are fully fit for purpose to current optometric practice in all its forms.

To this end, the GOC has a live consultation on revised Standards of Practice for Optometrists and Dispensing Opticians, Standards for Optical Students and Standards for Optical Businesses, closing on 8 May.

What will the AOP be doing?

We will submit a response to the proposed changes, informed by the views of members.

What is the AOP’s initial view of the proposed revision?

Having studied and discussed the proposed revisions to the existing standards, our opinion is that the majority are generally uncontentious. They mainly serve as a culturally sensitive update to both patient needs, and to wider principles of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI). There is a clear enhancement of a professionals’ duty to care for more vulnerable patients and to ensure that your mode of practice is accessible to all who need it.

There are also updates that assert leadership as a more overt characteristic for optometrists to exercise in their daily practice, and a new expectation that patients should be given information about all treatment options in a way they can understand.  We also welcome the added focus on patient care to the standards and appreciate the GOC laying groundwork for the influx of new technologies. However, we want to be certain that we represent members’ views in our response.

What should I do now?

We would like to hear members’ views so that we can help shape our collective response. We have identified six overarching questions to consider:

  • Do you feel equipped to recognise and treat your more vulnerable patients as per the enhanced role implied by the new standards? Do you feel before making this change the GOC should ensure that appropriate training is available?
  • In terms of the duty to offer the patient all possible choices of treatment/provider, do you feel that this is feasible with the information available to you (eg on provider waiting times)? What level of support might you need to meet such a standard?
  • One of the new standards specifically lays a foundation for the implementation of technological innovations that will likely enter daily practice in the optometric world – are you concerned about the advent of diagnostic AI and decision-making tools in optometry? What steps do you think need to be taken to ensure that your decision-making abilities and care of the patient are not negatively affected?
  • Do you feel that the EDI aspects of the new proposed standards go far enough?
  • Are the standards fully reflective of all optometrist career stages and working environments?
  • Do you feel that the standards for students are realistic considering their career stage? What could be an alternative?

We also welcome any views on the specific wording across all the revised standards.

Members’ views are invaluable to us in effectively influencing the GOC to ensure that the standards are robust, but achievable and an accurate reflection of your daily practice.

Please email [email protected] with your comments.

Members can also respond as an individual practitioner, Project: Standards