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GOC consultation response welcomes Law Commissions review

1 Jun 2012

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The General Optical Council (GOC) has welcomed the Law Commissions review of UK healthcare regulation in a consultation response published today.

The GOC supports the broad approach proposed by the Law Commissions of a single overarching legislative framework for healthcare regulators.

The proposed changes could make it easier for the GOC, and other regulators, to introduce rule changes. Currently, particularly for fitness to practise rules, primary legislation change is often required. This can be time-consuming and affected by uncertainty such as political change.

GOC chief executive and registrar Samantha Peters said, “The Law Commissions’ proposals have generally found an appropriate balance between flexibility and consistency. A simplified, modern and nimble legal framework will help us to respond faster and more effectively to developments in optics, regulation and wider healthcare.”

The GOC plans to review its current role in regulating both students and optical businesses, but supports the flexibility that the Law Commissions’ proposals will bring.

Samantha Peters explained, “We believe that the time may be right to reassess our current role in regulating students. We’re aware that student registration imposes some significant costs on students, training providers and the GOC, and we will examine our current system with an open mind.

“It’s important that the legislation allows us, and other regulators, the flexibility to adapt to changes in the sector, and we hope the new legislation will do that. But it’s equally important that any changes to current arrangements are necessary, proportionate and do not create unnecessary costs or disruption for the sector.”

“How optical businesses are regulated also merits further exploration in the context of the review of our legislation.”

In the coming months the GOC intends to commission research into the optical business sector. The GOC will consult extensively with stakeholders before proposing any changes to how optical businesses are regulated.

Samantha Peters added, “This review will be vital for the future shape of healthcare regulation and I’m delighted with the extent to which the optical bodies and patient groups have also engaged with the process.”


For further information please contact:
Neil Drake
Communications Manager
General Optical Council
t: 020 7307 3473


1. The full GOC response is available from

2 The consultation ran from 1 March 2012 – 31 May 2012

3. The remit of the project extends to the legal frameworks for the following bodies: the Council for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence, the General Chiropractic Council, the General Dental Council, the General Medical Council, the General Optical Council, the General Osteopathic Council, the General Pharmaceutical Council, the General Social Care Council, the Health Professions Council, the Nursing and Midwifery Council, and the Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland.

4. The review is a tripartite project between the Law Commission, the Scottish Law Commission and the Northern Ireland Law Commission.

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, conduct and performance amongst opticians. The Council currently registers around 25,000 optometrists, dispensing opticians, student opticians and optical businesses.


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