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GOC seeks views on future of student and business regulation

25 Jul 2013

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The General Optical Council (GOC) has today launched two consultations seeking views on how it might regulate optical students and businesses in the future.

GOC Chief Executive and Registrar Samantha Peters said, “These consultations look at two important areas of our role in protecting and promoting the health and safety of the public. In both cases we present a variety of options and we are keen to hear views from all our stakeholders.

“I would strongly encourage anyone with an interest in either of these areas to get involved in the consultations.”

Student regulation

The GOC is considering the views of stakeholders on the most effective and proportionate way to regulate students. As part of its current model of student regulation it requires all student optometrists and dispensing opticians to register. However, the GOC is the only one of the nine UK healthcare regulators to have such a system.

The consultation looks at the GOC’s current model of regulation, the risks posed by students, and alternative approaches to student regulation, taking into account the principles of good regulation. It includes an impact assessment which presents three options of student regulation. The GOC’s favoured option is a system of student regulation without student registration to achieve its objective of minimising risks to the public in the most proportionate way.

Business regulation

The GOC is also considering changes to how it regulates optical businesses. Whether a business has to register with the GOC currently depends on its structure and title; however, the GOC is considering whether there may be a more targeted and effective method of regulation.

The consultation document sets out a range of options. The GOC’s favoured option is to regulate businesses according to whether they carry out restricted functions, such as testing sight or dispensing spectacles to children or people who are visually impaired. The GOC would also enhance its Code of Conduct for Business Registrants to more clearly target public risks caused by poor business practices.

How to respond

Both consultations close on 3 October. As well as inviting written responses, the GOC is holding a public event in London on 4 September so stakeholders can discuss the issues face-to-face with the GOC and each other.

Both consultations are available to read and respond to on the GOC website at

Council will consider all consultation feedback before coming to a final decision at its public meeting on 14 November. This will then allow the GOC to provide a view to the UK Law Commissions and UK Government on whether it considers there is a case for changing the law.


For media enquiries please contact:
Simon Grier
Communications Manager
General Optical Council
t: 020 7307 3478

Notes for editors:

1. The public event will takes place at Friends House, 173 Euston Road, London, NW1 2BJ. Attendees will be invited to discuss student regulation from 15:15 – 17:15 and business regulation from 18:00 – 20:00. Delegates will be welcome to attend either or both sessions. Attendance is free but due to limited capacity delegates must register their interest in advance by signing up through the GOC website at, emailing or calling 020 7580 3898 (option 4).

2. The GOC’s Consultation Framework is available on its website at

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 26,000 optometrists, dispensing opticians, student opticians and optical businesses.

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