A guide to our new standards
General Optical Council eBulletin 25
October 2015

A guide to our new standards

In July, our Council approved the introduction of new Standards of Practice for optometrists, dispensing opticians and optical students, to replace the current Code of Conduct for individual registrants. These will come in two separate documents, one for fully qualified optometrists and dispensing opticians, and the other specifically for student registrants. The new Standards of Practice will come into effect on April 1 2016. We have prepared a guide to the new Standards below to help you prepare for the changes.

What is the purpose of the new Standards?

The Standards will support registrants by making much clearer our expectations as the statutory regulator with responsibility for setting professional standards in the optical sector. But the Standards are not a rule book – they give room for registrants to use their professional judgement in deciding how to apply the Standards in any given situation.

Why did the existing Code of Conduct for individual registrants need to be changed?

The current Code of Conduct has now been in place for over five years, in which time the optical landscape has changed significantly. During this time, the expectations of patients and the public have evolved across healthcare. It has been necessary to update our Standards to reflect this and better clarify our expectations of registrants.

How have the Standards of Practice for fully qualified registrants changed?

As before, there are still 19 standards. But there is now more detail to ensure that our expectations of registrants are clear. Most standards from the Code of Conduct for individual registrants have remained and will be familiar to you, while others, such as a duty to be candid when things have gone wrong, are new and reflect the evolving healthcare environment.

Will there be any training provided on the new standards?

All registrants will be required to complete one piece of CET on the new Standards as part of the new 2016-18 CET cycle. This will provide further information and clarity on the standards to allow you to apply them with confidence. When you login to the new CET system from 1 January 2016 onwards you will see that the existing ‘professional conduct’ competency has changed to ‘standards of practice’. You will also be given an automatic learning goal within your Personal Development Plan requiring you to complete some CET in relation to the standards of practice. Whenever you complete and accept CET points within the 2016-18 CET cycle, you will be asked whether you want to link the points to the standards of practice learning goal or some other learning goal.

Why are there separate Standards for students?

The new Standards for students have been created to reflect that students are at a different stage of their career to fully qualified registrants. They develop their skills and knowledge during the course of their education and training, and treat patients under supervision.

When will the new Standards come into effect?

The new Standards will come in to place from 1 April 2016. The existing Code of Conduct for individual registrants will remain in place until 31 March 2016.

When will we receive copies of the Standards?

We will send out email copies of the new Standards in October 2015 to allow you to familiarise yourself with them. We will then, in December, be sending out paper copies of the new Standards to you with your retention packs. We strongly recommend you familiarise yourself with the Standards ahead of them coming into effect so you are aware of all that will be expected of you.

What further support will the GOC offer?

During the consultation period, a number of areas were identified by respondents as requiring further support. This included consent, duty of candour, care and compassion and the legal requirements affecting practice. The GOC will develop further guidance or signposting to other resources where necessary to support registrants.

You can also email your enquiries to standards@optical.org

What should you do now?

When you receive your copy of the new Standards, you should read through the document to ensure that you are familiar with the requirements. From 1 January 2016 when you log into the new CET online system, you will be asked to make a declaration that you will have read the Standards by 1 April 2016 and abide by the Standards from this date onwards. This declaration will then be made when you renew your registration each year.

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