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GOC highlights importance of student supervision

30 Jun 2009

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The General Optical Council (GOC) is today reminding all optical businesses, students and supervisors to ensure their current arrangements for professional supervision of students meet the requirements outlined by the GOC, and examination or assessment bodies.

This follows the recent Fitness to Practise (FTP) hearing involving Boots Opticians Ltd (a GOC-registered business); Trevor Burgess, a registered student dispensing optician; and Richard Simmons, a registered dispensing optician.

On 26 June, an independent FTP Committee determined that Boots Opticians Ltd had failed to take reasonable and proportionate steps to prevent Trevor Burgess from dispensing spectacles to a patient under the age of 16. The Committee found that the fitness to practise of Boots Opticians Ltd was impaired, and imposed a fine of £30,000. Trevor Burgess was given a formal warning. No sanction was imposed on Richard Simmons.

GOC chief executive and registrar, Dian Taylor commented: “Supervision of students is essential for protecting patients and the public. This case highlights the importance of having proper supervision mechanisms in place, and ensuring those mechanisms are communicated to staff, and implemented at ground level”.

Dian Taylor added: “With appropriate supervision, students can develop the core competencies they need to practise safely, in a controlled, restricted environment. But without it, students may not know their limits, and the consequences can be potentially harmful to patients.”

By law, GOC-registered students (of both optometry and dispensing optics) must not carry out any of the following unless supervised by a GOC-registered professional:

  • Testing sight
  • Fitting contact lenses
  • Dispensing to children under 16, or to the visually impaired

Business registrants are bound by the GOC’s Code of Conduct for business registrants. This is available from  

‘Supervision’ means that the supervisor must be on the same premises as the student they are supervising, and in a position to intervene at any time.

Detailed guidance on supervision is published by ABDO and the College of Optometrists. Visit or  


For further information please contact:

Clare Millington
Communications Manager
General Optical Council
t: 020 7307 3473

About the General Optical Council:

The GOC is the regulator for the optical professions in the UK. Its purpose is to protect the public by promoting high standards of education, performance and conduct amongst opticians. The Council currently registers around 23,500 optometrists, dispensing opticians, student opticians and optical businesses.


1. The FTP hearing heard allegations regarding three GOC registrants: Richard Simmons, a dispensing optician and student supervisor; Trevor Burgess, a student dispensing optician; and Boots Opticians Ltd, a GOC registered business. The allegations against each registrant were heard together at the 26 June hearing, as each allegation stems from the same set of facts.

2. The Committee determined that the date of expiry of the warning issued to Trevor Burgess would be 26 June 2012.

3. Full details of the Simmons/ Burgess/ Boots Opticians Ltd hearing are available from (under our work>hearings).

4. ‘Supervision’ means that the supervisor must be on the same premises as the student they are supervising, and in a position to intervene at any time. The FTP Committee noted that this definition only covers the minimum requirement for supervision.

5. Examination and assessment bodies are required by the GOC to have in place systems for the approval and review of supervisors, and the suitability of the practice and placements.

6. A supervisor must have full, up-to-date registration with the GOC or GMC held for at least two years. Previous registration as a student cannot be counted as eligibility to supervise.


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