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Public protection must drive regulation reform, says GOC

7 Nov 2006

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General Optical Council press release, 7 November 2006

For immediate release

Public protection must drive regulation reform, says GOC

The General Optical Council (GOC) today welcomed the emphasis on public protection running through government proposals to improve the regulation of healthcare professionals.

Responding to the consultation on Healthcare Professional Regulation, the Council is positive about efforts to introduce greater consistency and collaboration between regulators and the other players in the UK health system.

The Council warns that differences between systems for regulating medical and non-medical professionals would undermine these efforts. However, it argues for proportionality in regulation, to recognise differences in size, practice settings and risk among the different professions.

There is also support for proposals to change the ‘culture’ of regulation, through a greater emphais on supporting good standards of practice, including provision for retraining and rehabilitation where problems arise.

GOC Chairman Rosie Varley said: “These two reports provide the basis for regulators to move ahead with some critical reforms which will promote public health and safety. The GOC is committed to strengthening public protection, and we look forward to working with the Department of Health, CHRE and other regulatory bodies to put key measures in place swiftly.”

Response on key points:

  • The Council welcomes the principle of revalidation, provided that any approach is proportionate. Any revalidation approach should include a practical assessment, and the consequences of failure should be considered including opportunities for retraining and rehabilitation.
  • The Council does not oppose the idea of a lay majority as this may improve public trust in regulation. Election of some members should continue to secure professional engagement.
  • The GOC supports a single independent adjudicator for all the healthcare professions.
  • Setting standards for entry to the profession is at the heart of professional regulation. The GOC strongly opposes moving education functions from the General Medical Council to the Postgraduate Medical Education and Training Board.
  • A common standard of proof is a pre-requisite for common sanctions and a shared adjudication function. Respondents to the GOC’s consultation emphasised the seriousness of the available sanctions, citing in particular the effect of erasure on an individual’s livelihood in support of maintaining the criminal standard.
  • Optical support workers pose a low level of risk to the public and currently work under the supervision of registered professionals. The GOC would not support further extension of regulation without a strong evidential case which addressed issues of risk and proportionality.

Acrobat Reader icon GOC response to The regulation of the non-medical healthcare professions

ENDS

For further information please contact:
Kate Fielding
Communications Manager
General Optical Council
t: 020 7307 3472
m: 07763 210019
e: kfielding@optical.org

Notes to editors:
1. Two reviews of healthcare professional regulation, The regulation of the nonmedical healthcare professions and Good doctors, safer patients were published in July. These documents are available from the Department of Health website:
http://www.dh.gov.uk/PublicationsAndStatistics/Publications/PublicationsPolicyAn
dGuidance/PublicationsPolicyAndGuidanceArticle/fs/enCONTENT_ID=4137239&chk=zkSWnu
http://www.dh.gov.uk/PublicationsAndStatistics/Publications/PublicationsPolicyAn dGuidance/PublicationsPolicyAndGuidanceArticle/fs/enCONTENT_ID=4137232&chk=KW63va
2. The full text of the GOC response to the consultation is available from the Council’s website, at:
http://www.optical.org/documents/061102GOCresponsetoconsultationonregulationofhealthprofessionals.pdf
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.

 

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