1. What is the Education Strategic Review (ESR)?

The purpose of the ESR is to review and make recommendations on how the system of optical education and training should evolve so that registrants are equipped to carry out the roles they will be expected to perform in the future to meet patient needs.

Since the review’s launch in 2017, the GOC has consulted extensively to understand the key risks, opportunities and impacts facing the sector, such as the need to respond to the changes in the needs of patients, the roles of optical professionals, and delivery of healthcare across all four nations in the UK.

We have published an infographic which sets out the key elements of the ESR.

2. Why is the GOC conducting the ESR now? 

The optical sector is evolving and the services that GOC registrants are expected to deliver are changing.

We identified drivers for changes in the education and training of optical professionals. These included ensuring that registrants respond to changes in the:

  • needs of patients (for example, the impact of an ageing population and the
  • increasing prevalence of certain long-term conditions and co-morbidities);
  • roles of optical professionals (which are changing due to numerous factors – for example, changes in technology, and clinical leadership expectations, end to end case management); and
  • delivery of healthcare across the four UK nations (due to service delivery pressures, contracts, tariffs and outcome measures).

We are conducting this review now to continue to protect the public by ensuring that education and training for optometrists and dispensing opticians equips individuals to meet patient needs, adapting with changing roles and technology.

One of the high-level changes in education and training that has been driven by demographic changes, advances in technology, austerity in the NHS and workforce pressures for ophthalmologists, is the recognition by many in the sector that optometry is no longer a science discipline, but a vocational clinical one.

The ESR is one half of the overarching picture of how to support and develop our optical professionals so that they can meet changing service demands. For this reason, the role of Continuing Education and Training (CET) is equally critical and the upskilling of current professionals to deliver clinically focussed, patient-centred care is essential if we are to realise the potential they offer to augment a multi-disciplinary team working in secondary care environments.

To read the ESR FAQs in full, click here.

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