Fitness to practise
General Optical Council eBulletin 31
March 2017

Fitness to practise

Understandably, the idea of being found no longer fit to practise your profession as an optometrist or dispensing optician is incredibly worrying. Working in optics involves years of study, training, developing skill and caring for patients. The thought of losing that can be concerning and provoke strong reactions.

In our recent Registrant Survey, while just 13 per cent of those of you who responded said you though our fitness to practise process was unfair, 40 per cent said you didn’t know. So it might reassure you to know that our most severe sanction, erasure from the register, is certainly not one that we issue lightly. It is appropriate where this is the only means of protecting patients and/or maintaining public confidence in the optical professions.

In 2016 we erased just four registrants out of 29,000. Where the problem is not with clinical performance, erasure is usually linked to criminal conduct such as theft, fraud, perverting the course of justice or violence.

The purpose of the fitness to practise process is not to punish, but instead is there to protect the public and uphold public confidence in the professions. A panel hearing a case must look forward to think about the future, not back to punish past mistakes – so sometimes even in the cases of serious misconduct, a lesser sanction than erasure might be applied if the panel believes the registrant will be safe to practise in the future.

A crucial focus for our work is to continue raising standards to help you avoid complaints in the first place. That’s why publishing information like our new guidance on the professional duty of candour is so important. When you use this guidance together with your own professional judgement you’ll be well-placed to know you are doing the best for your patients and working to a high standard.




eBulletin 31 March 2017

Welcome to eBulletin

Duty of candour guidance

Love Your Lenses

Registrant survey


Fitness to practise

News in brief

© 2019 General Optical Council, 10 Old Bailey, London, EC4M 7NG
Tel: 020 7580 3898    Fax: 020 7307 3939    Email: