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GOC celebrates golden anniversary

30 Jun 2008

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This month the General Optical Council (GOC) celebrates its 50th birthday. On 7 July 2008 it will be 50 years to the day since the beginning of statutory regulation for optometrists and dispensing opticians, as created by the Opticians Act.

To mark the golden anniversary, Council members past and present, along with optical bodies, charities, and other partner organisations, will gather in London on 2 July to commemorate the Council’s achievements.

Commenting on the occasion, GOC chairman Rosie Varley said: “This is a milestone for both the GOC and the optical professions. Optical regulation has changed significantly over the past half-century, to keep pace with clinical developments in optometry and dispensing optics, and the settings in which eye care is provided. Both professions have come a long way since 1958, and continue to grow and adapt. Their capacity to modernise has ensured that the UK public continues to receive a high standard of eye care. The flexibility and forward-looking approach of the sector will put us in a strong position to deliver the next phase of reforms.”

Peter Coe added: “It is important to recognise and celebrate the hard work and collaborative partnerships that have enabled Council to deliver its mission of public protection since its creation 50 years ago. I am confident that with the valued support and expertise of registrants, members, partners and staff, we are well equipped to deal with the challenges ahead.”

Guest speakers at the anniversary event include Dr June Crown CBE and Dr Bob Chappell OBE. The GOC will also present guests with a commemorative publication, 1958-2008: Celebrating 50 years of optical regulation, which documents the changes and developments in optical care over the last half-century.

Members will meet the following day to agree the next steps for implementing some of the recommendations outlined in the Government White Paper on healthcare regulation. Issues on the Council agenda include: agreeing the process for applying the civil standard of proof in all GOC Fitness to Practise (disciplinary) hearings; and agreeing changes to the Registration and CET Rules to establish an Independent Prescribing of medicines specialty for optometrists.


For further information please contact:
Clare Millington
Communications Officer
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 and conduct amongst opticians. The Council currently registers around 22,000 optometrists, dispensing opticians, student opticians and optical businesses.

1. Agenda and papers for the 3 July Council meeting, and for previous meetings, are available on the GOC website:

2. Council meetings are open to the public. Anyone wishing to attend should email:

3. Proceedings will start at 10.30am.

4. Please note: members of the public are not able to attend the Council’s anniversary event. This is by invitation only.

5. The next meeting of the GOC will take place in London on Thursday, 20 November 2008.

6. The Government’s White Paper, ‘Trust, Assurance & Safety: The Regulation of Health Professionals in the 21st Century’ sets out a series of proposals for reforming healthcare regulation. The Paper was published In February 2007.

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