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News from Council 12 February 2014

18 Feb 2014

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Strategic plan

Council approved the GOC’s strategic plan for the next three years, following a public consultation.

The regulator intends to play a more proactive role in promoting public health and safety through the standards it sets for optometrists, dispensing opticians and registered businesses, promoting public trust in the profession and helping to raise awareness of eye-health.

It will also seek to deal with complaints more quickly and effectively, for the benefit of both the public and registrants.

GOC Chief Executive and Registrar, Samantha Peters, said: "After receiving very positive and constructive feedback from our stakeholders we are pleased to have finalised our strategic plan. This plan places the public at the core of everything we do, and will help us to meet the expectations on all regulators following the Francis Inquiry.”

The strategic plan will come into effect on 1 April 2014 and will run until 31 March 2017.

Illegal practice strategy

The GOC will shortly be consulting on a new strategy to tackle illegal practice. The strategy is informed by independent research the regulator commissioned last year and seeks to reduce the risk of public harm arising from illegal practices such as misuse of a protected title and illegal online contact lens sales.

The GOC is proposing to take a broad approach, responding to complaints in line with its prosecution protocol, promoting public awareness of the need to follow contact lens aftercare advice and have regular check-ups, promoting a voluntary code of practice for online contact lens sales to help consumers identify suppliers who follow good practice, and deepening its collaboration with other enforcement bodies.

Alistair Bridge, GOC Director of Policy and Communications, said: “One of the biggest problems we face is the illegal supply of contact lenses from websites overseas. Unfortunately our ability to cut off this supply is limited, so we need a more creative and proactive approach. This will involve helping the public understand the benefits of choosing a supplier that provides first-rate clinical advice and aftercare.

“It will be vital for us to work closely with the optical professions, manufacturers, consumer groups and other enforcement bodies to tackle illegal practice effectively, and we look forward to hearing our stakeholders' views on our proposals and how we can implement them together."

The GOC expects to launch the consultation later this month and it will run until the end of May.

Nockolds Solicitors to run consumer complaints service

Council announced that the GOC has appointed Nockolds Solicitors to run its independent mediation service for optical consumers from 1 April 2014.

More information can be found on the GOC’s website.

Other news

Council approved the business plan and budget for 2014/15, discussed the GOC's equality, diversity and inclusion scheme, and signed off the final version of the fitness to practise guidance to accompany the new Rules that are due to come into force on 1 April.

Additionally, Council reported a strong response to the recruitment process for case examiners, with a total of 356 applicants. Appointments will be confirmed upon completion of training, with the names of successful applicants to be published in March.

Council paid tribute to David Pyle, a member of the GOC education committee and former GOC Council member, who recently passed away following a battle with cancer.

Next meeting – Wednesday 14 May 2014 in London. Time and venue to be confirmed at a later date.

ENDS

For media enquiries please contact:
Simon Grier
Communications Manager
General Optical Council
t: 020 7307 3478
e: sgrier@optical.org

Notes to editors

1. Papers for all of the items mentioned above can be viewed on our website: http://www.optical.org/en/get-involved/Council_meetings_and_papers/council-papers-for-february-2014.cfm

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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