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Opticians see eye to eye with patients

8 Sep 2008

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In the last year, fewer than one per cent of opticians were the subject of a fitness to practise complaint, according to the General Optical Council (GOC). The latest figures, published in the optical regulator’s 2007/8 Annual Report, show an overall increase in the number of complaints, following decreases for the past two years. In total, 13 per cent of all complaints resulted in a referral to a formal public hearing.

Spectacle prescriptions were amongst the public’s main concerns, accounting for nearly 28 per cent of complaints received. Clinical issues also featured highly, including complaints relating to the treatment and detection of eye conditions such as cataracts and macular degeneration.

On launching this year’s Report, Chairman Rosie Varley commented: “The overwhelming majority of our registrants continue to maintain high standards of conduct and clinical competence. In the small number of cases where there are problems, the GOC works hard to implement FTP procedures that are fair, transparent and proportionate, from receipt of the complaint right through to its conclusion. Our work over the past year demonstrates our commitment to delivering effective public protection that also inspires the confidence of the eyecare professionals we regulate.”

Continuing Education and Training (CET) figures are included in the yearly review. At the half way point of the current cycle, optometrists have earned an average 29 points each, with contact lens opticians clocking up 26 points and dispensing opticians 21 points each. Rosie Varley added: “There is clearly a huge appetite amongst registrants for developing their clinical and professional expertise through continuing education. This enthusiasm shows no sign of losing momentum, and demonstrates real commitment to providing the public with high-quality eye care.”

The Report also features registration facts and figures. Both optometry and dispensing optics continue to attract a growing number of trainees. The overall intake of students to all GOC-approved courses in optometry and dispensing optics increased by three per cent last year, from 4,166 to 4,289.

Download a copy of the 2007-8 Annual Report.


For further information please contact:
Clare Millington
Communications Officer
General Optical Council
t: 020 7307 3473

Notes for editors

1. In total, 172 fitness to practise complaints were received in 2007/8. Optometrists were the subject of complaint in 69 per cent of cases. The remainder related to dispensing opticians (15 per cent), student registrants and bodies corporate (both four per cent).

2. There were five opticians erased from the registers, comprising two cases of clinical incompetence and three criminal convictions.

3. A total of nearly 600,000 CET points were awarded to registrants in the first half of the cycle, just over half of which have been confirmed to date on the website (305,797). Points may relate to multiple competencies. In total, uptake over all core competency areas totalled 1.2 million competency points.

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