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GOC publish 2005/6 Annual Report

6 Oct 2006

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General Optical Council press release – 6 October 2006

For immediate release

Women are looking into your eyes…

Figures published today by the General Optical Council (GOC) show that over half of registered optometrists in the UK are now female. The findings emerge from the Council’s yearly registration review. Numbers of women choosing a career in optometry have increased every year since the introduction of statutory regulation in 1960, when they accounted for fewer than 5% of registered practitioners.

GOC Chairman, Rosie Varley commented: “These figures represent a milestone for the optical professions. The General Optical Council has an important role to play in ensuring that optometry and dispensing optics continue to promote equality of opportunity for all groups, irrespective of age, gender or ethnic background. By providing opportunities for all groups to offer their knowledge and skills, we can ensure that patients will continue to be able to access high quality eye care services now and into the future.”

The statistics are published as part of the GOC’s 2005/6 Annual Report, which also includes statistics for complaints against opticians. The overall number of cases notified to the GOC has fallen from 184 complaints in 2004/5, to 146 in 2005/6. In total, 30 registrants were referred for a formal hearing, representing fewer than 0.2% of registered opticians. Three registrants were the subject of ‘interim orders’ for suspension from the register, and one practitioner was erased from the register.

Rosie Varley said: “These statistics show that the vast majority of eye care professionals are highly competent and professional, and fully justify the public’s confidence in them. In the very few cases where opticians fail to meet these standards, we will continue to strive for better public protection and safety. The Council takes seriously any concerns about an optician’s fitness to practise, and we will always seek to take timely and appropriate action.”

The full 2005/6 Annual Report can be downloaded from the website.


For further information please contact:
Kate Fielding
Communications Manager
General Optical Council
t: 020 7307 3472
m: 07763 210019

Notes to editors:

1. On publication of the first Opticians Register in 1960, 276 out of 6039 optometrists were female (4.57%). At 31 December 2005, there were 5256 women optometrists out of a total 10419 registrants (50.45%).

2. Women dispensing opticians represented 137 out of a total of 873 registrants in 1960 (15.69%). Figures for 31 December 2005 were 2786 out of a total 5219 registrants (53.38%).

3. Total numbers of individual registrants at 31 December 2005 were 19337 (including 3739 students) plus 1147 registered bodies corporate.

4. 146 cases of concerns were notified to the GOC in 2005/6. 30 registrants referred to the Fitness to Practise Committee for a formal hearing. Seven registrants were referred for performance assessment or review. Three interim orders were granted for suspension from the register. One registrant was erased
from the register.

5. The figures compare with around 17.7 million eye tests carried out in England and Wales in the year to 31 March 2005, according to Department of Health and Federation of Ophthalmic and Dispensing Opticians (FODO) data.

About the GOC:
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 and conduct amongst opticians. The Council currently registers around 22,000 optometrists, dispensing opticians, student opticians and optical businesses.

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