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News from 11 July Council

12 Jul 2013

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Business and student regulation consultations

Council agreed to two consultations on the future of how the GOC regulates students and optical businesses.

The consultations, which the GOC will launch on 24 July, will seek feedback from patients and the public, optical professionals and other GOC stakeholders on potential changes to how both groups are regulated.

The consultations will include a public stakeholder event in London as well as seeking written responses.

Council will consider the feedback from the consultations at its next meeting in November. This will allow the GOC to provide a definitive view on whether there is a case for changing how it regulates optical businesses and students to the UK Law Commissions and the UK Government. The Law Commissions are currently reviewing all of the legislation underpinning UK healthcare regulators’ powers with a view to simplifying and modernising the law.

GOC Chief Executive and Registrar Samantha Peters said, “We believe there may be scope for a more effective and targeted method of regulating optical businesses. We are also considering whether GOC registration is the most proportionate way of ensuring that optical students do not cause public harm.

“These are both important areas of our work and we know they will be of real interest to a wide range of our stakeholders. I would encourage all interested parties to get involved in the consultations so that we can take their feedback on board.”

PSA Performance Review Report

Council discussed the GOC’s performance review from the body which oversees its work, the Professional Standards Authority (PSA).

In its annual performance review of UK regulators, the PSA found that since last year, the GOC has improved its handling of fitness to practise cases and now meets all 24 of the prescribed standards.

The PSA particularly highlighted the GOC’s enhanced CET scheme for praise.

Samantha Peters said: “We know it’s important that we consider the whole PSA review and look at good practice and recommendations for all of the regulators, not just what the PSA said about us. Council had an extremely productive discussion and we will work closely with the PSA to address all areas where we may be able to improve our performance.”

Guidance on declarations

Council has agreed declarations guidance for registrants following a consultation.

All registrants, when making an application for registration, restoration or retention, are required to make a self-declaration about their fitness to join or remain on the GOC register.

The GOC recognised that it would be helpful to registrants to provide, where appropriate, guidance on the type of declarations that must be made, and how the GOC will consider these. The GOC will publish the guidance on its website in the coming days and promote it to registrants in its next eBulletin.

FTP Rules ‘sealed’

Council formally ‘sealed’ the GOC’s new Fitness to Practise (FTP) Rules. This gives the Rules Council’s final stamp of approval and means they can now go to the Privy Council to begin their journey through the Parliamentary approval process. It is not possible to be precise about how long that would take but the GOC will continue to engage with all relevant stakeholders throughout the process.

The new Rules are designed to make the GOC’s FTP process faster and more modern. Changes include introducing case examiners to decide whether to refer an allegation for an FTP hearing, screening out malicious complaints and fast-tracking cases involving serious criminal convictions.

Other news

Council signed off its annual report and accounts for 2012/13, and the GOC’s meeting schedule for 2014.

Next meeting – Thursday 14 November 2013 in London. Time and venue to be confirmed at a later date.

ENDS

For further information, please contact:

Simon Grier
GOC Communications Manager
020 7307 3478
sgrier@optical.org

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

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