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News from Council, 11 May 2016

12 May 2016

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Guidance on consent and candour

Council approved draft guidance on consent and on the duty of candour. Registrants and other stakeholders were particularly keen to receive extra guidance in these two areas and the GOC will now consult on the drafts.

The duty of candour is a relatively new concept in healthcare. It is a professional responsibility to be open, honest and transparent with patients when things go wrong. It is also important for registrants to obtain valid consent before examining a patient or providing treatment.

Alistair Bridge, GOC Director of Strategy said, “It was clear from our standards consultation last year that registrants would like more guidance on candour and consent. We have run CET events at recent major trade shows to support registrants, but we want to make sure that clear, written guidance is available to all.

“We are now consulting with our stakeholders to make sure we get the guidance right, and until we have had the chance to listen and reflect on their views, registrants should note that the documents are only in draft form and do not yet represent the GOC’s official view.”

Illegal practice strategy

Council received an update on the GOC’s strategy for tackling illegal practice in the optical sector.

In the coming year the GOC will focus on raising awareness among patients and the public about how to buy and wear contact lenses safely. Recent independent research conducted for the GOC showed a need for improvement in the provision of, and compliance with, aftercare advice. The research showed that only 48 per cent of patients could recall receiving aftercare advice at their last contact lens check-up and only 43 per cent viewed contact lenses as a healthcare product rather than a lifestyle or cosmetic one.

Further development of a voluntary code of practice for online contact lens sellers has been deferred until 2017/18, as the GOC announced last week when it published its business plan. This will allow the GOC to dedicate sufficient resources to its Education Strategic Review.

Council also decided that following its public consultation on the draft code, it would not be appropriate, based on the currently available evidence, to include within the code the proposed provisions relating to substitution of contact lenses. The GOC appreciates that some stakeholders feel strongly about this issue and the potential for public harm. However, there is not currently any evidence of patients suffering direct harm as a result of substitution.

Hearings and indicative sanctions guidance

Council approved new hearings and indicative sanctions guidance to be used in the GOC’s fitness to practise (FTP) process following a consultation.

The guidance is used to explain the FTP process and help panels members decide what sanction to apply, if any, in an FTP hearing. The guidance will help to ensure fair and proportionate decisions. The changes are also designed to take account of legal and regulatory changes and the GOC’s new Standards of Practice.

The guidance was generally supported by the majority of stakeholders who responded to the consultation. However, following the consultation the GOC did make some amendments to specific parts of the guidance and to improve clarity and accessibility generally.

The GOC will publish the final version of the guidance in the coming days.

Optical Consumer Complaints Service (OCCS) Annual Report

Council were presented with the Optical Consumer Complaints Service (OCCS) Annual Report for 2015-16. The OCCS received 969 enquiries regarding optical consumer complaints in 2015-16, between 1 April 2015 and 31 March 2016, and reached a resolution in over 98 per cent of cases. ­

Lisa Davis, GOC Director of Fitness to Practise, said: “The 98 per cent resolution figure shows what an impressive record the OCCS has in resolving disputes. It is important that practitioners remember the OCCS is a mediation service which they can turn to as well, designed to work impartially with both the patient and the practitioner.”

Other news

Council considered and provided feedback on a draft strategy to manage FTP complaints more quickly and effectively. The GOC will now work to finalise and implement the strategy.

Council approved a new policy on the management of interests, which will begin a trial period from 1 June 2016. This policy is intended to support the principles of transparency to maintain confidence in the GOC and ensure decision making is independent, fair and free from improper influence and bias.



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

Notes to editors

1. Council papers are available 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 29,000 optometrists, dispensing opticians, student opticians and optical businesses.

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