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Optical regulator in Belfast to drive forward healthcare reforms

10 Mar 2008

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On 13 March, the General Optical Council (GOC) will convene in Belfast for the first time. The meeting takes place in the Council’s 50th anniversary year.

Members are set to make decisions that will drive forward the recommendations outlined in the recent Government White Paper on healthcare regulation. Issues on the agenda include: guidance on applying the civil standard of proof in all GOC Fitness to Practise (disciplinary) hearings; recent legislation allowing optometrists to train to independently prescribe medicines; and the implementation of the new European law enabling qualified professionals to work in other EU countries with greater ease.

Rosie Varley, Council chairman said: “This is a significant meeting for the GOC, creating an opportunity for members of the public and registrants in Northern Ireland to find out more about our work. Close partnerships between ourselves, the Northern Irish optical bodies, and the Northern Ireland Assembly, continue to play a key role in ensuring we deliver effective public protection across the UK.”

Members will also attend a Council dinner inside Stormont, the Northern Ireland Assembly headquarters. Proceedings will be hosted by Mr Kieran McCarthy, a member of the Local Assembly Alliance Party.

A pre-Council seminar takes place on 12 March, where members will hear a presentation by Alan Rundle, Chairman of Optometry Northern Ireland.

The meeting takes place in public at the Culloden Hotel, Belfast. Journalists and members of the public who would like to attend should contact:


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 this Council meeting, and for previous meetings, are available on the GOC website:

2. The Culloden Hotel, Belfast is located six miles east of Belfast city centre. There is a train station next to the hotel, with a direct link to Belfast Central Station.

3. Proceedings will start at 9.30am.

4. Please note: journalists and members of the public are not able to attend the Council dinner, or the pre-Council seminar. These events are by invitation only.

5. The next meeting of the GOC will take place in London on Monday, 19 May 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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