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Volunteers to help optical regulator 'see more clearly'

30 Apr 2010

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The General Optical Council (GOC) is looking for volunteers to join two new Stakeholder Reference Groups. Each group will be made up of 12 members. Patients and members of the public will form one group, and optical professionals such as registrants, ophthalmologists and representatives of the optical bodies will form the other.

Once recruited, the Stakeholder Reference Groups (SRGs) will have the opportunity to offer feedback and suggestions on a wide variety of GOC projects and policies, such as:

  • Providing feedback on information leaflets for either patients or registrants
  • Testing the usability of sections of the website;
  • Suggestions for improving consultation questions; and
  • Offering opinions on GOC policies, such as revalidation.

GOC registrar, Dian Taylor said: “This is an exciting initiative for the Council, and the first time we have had stakeholder reference groups of this kind. Volunteers need to be passionate about healthcare, willing to reflect on their personal experiences, either as a patient, member of the public or as an optical practitioner, and offer their perspectives on a range of regulatory issues. This is just one of the ways we are engaging with people who are affected by the GOC’s work, to help us continue to put patient safety at the heart of everything we do.”

SRG volunteers will mainly offer their input from home, through online ‘e-engagement’ exercises via email, or in writing. There will also be occasional focus groups, and at least one all-day event for members each year, for which participants will be entitled to claim reasonable travel expenses and a £50 fee daily fee to compensate for time out of work or practice.

Both groups will initially run as one year pilots. The GOC will review membership after a year and changes may be made to ensure the group is offering meaningful, genuine input into the Council’s work. SRGs will not have a formal chair. Focus groups and events will be run and facilitated either independently or by a GOC member of staff, as appropriate.

The GOC welcomes applications from everyone, regardless of gender, age, ethnicity, sexual orientation, faith or disability. Volunteers will be recruited on the strength of their application form and personal statement, and/ or will be interviewed by telephone. There will be no face to face interviews for the positions.

More information and an application form are available from http://www.optical.org/en/about_us/working_for_us/vacancies.cfm or call 020 7580 3898. The closing date for applications is 15 June 2010, and members will be required to attend a one-day launch event in London on 22 September 2010.

ENDS

For media enquiries please contact:
Clare March
Communications Manager
General Optical Council
t: 020 7307 3473
e: cmarch@optical.org

NOTES TO EDITORS

1. Each group will contain 12 volunteers. When recruiting for the positions, the GOC will seek to reflect the diversity of both the public and the optical professions, including a balance of optometrists and dispensing opticians.

2. Applicants should be aware that SRG membership is a voluntary appointment rather than a contract of employment, and is therefore not subject to the provisions on employment law.

3. Recruitment schedule

Closing date: 15 June 2010
Members recruited by: 31 August 2010
Introductory launch meeting: 22 September 2010
NB this is the day before public September Council meeting

4. The groups will initially run as a one year pilot. Membership will be reviewed after a year and changes may be made to ensure the group is offering meaningful, genuine input into GOC work. Following a review at the end of the first year, SRG volunteers may serve for a maximum period of three years, subject to satisfactory contributions.

5. The duties of the groups are as follows:

a. To contribute to GOC policy developments and provide the optical, patient and public perspective; and
b. To encourage and assist in the development of greater patient and public involvement in all aspects of the GOC work.

6. All work will be set according to business need, rather than at set intervals, as directed by the Communications Department. Volunteers will be selected from the two groups as required, in a similar way to education visitors and FTP panellists, aiming to use the members with interests and experiences suited to the task in hand.

7. To achieve a balanced mix of participants and target some seldom-heard groups, the GOC will advertise for members of the public and patient group in the following:

a. Volunteering section of The Guardian, and The Guardian Jobs website
b. JobCentre Plus network
c. Eye hospitals and optical clinics of universities
d. Local LINks co-ordinators
e. Through patient organisations and charities
f. On the GOC website

8. Implementing the two SRGs will complete the final phase of the Council’s Stakeholder Engagement Strategy. Council gave its approval for the proposals on 25 February 2010. The expenditure was budgeted for the 2010-11 financial year. The relevant Council paper can be found at: http://www.optical.org/goc/filemanager/root/site_assets/council_papers/february_2010_2/c_07_10_stakeholder_reference_groups.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, performance and conduct amongst opticians. The Council currently registers around 23,500 optometrists, dispensing opticians, student opticians and optical businesses.
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