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News from Council - 13 May 2015

14 May 2015

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Public perceptions research

New research commissioned by the General Optical Council (GOC) has shown high levels of confidence in, and satisfaction with, opticians among the public. However it also showed that opticians are seen as playing a narrow role in testing sight and improving vision rather than improving eye health more generally.

The independent research found that 96 per cent of those who had been to the opticians in the past two years were either very satisfied or fairly satisfied with their overall experience of opticians.

A further 92 per cent of respondents were confident of receiving a high standard of care from opticians. This was higher than for GPs (88 per cent) and dentists (87 per cent), but slightly lower than for pharmacists (94 per cent).

The research did find, however, that GPs are seen as the main port of call when individuals experience acute eye problems, such as something in their eye, a red eye or blurred vision. Just 19 per cent said that they would consult an optician first compared with 54 per cent who would turn to their GP, ten per cent who would consult a pharmacist and five per cent who would go to Accident and Emergency.

Research agency ComRes independently carried out the research, conducting a telephone survey of 2,250 UK adults to explore public perceptions of opticians and how they are regulated. The report also highlights differences in views across the four nations of the UK where these are statistically significant.

GOC Director of Strategy Alistair Bridge said: “It is very pleasing to see from our research that the public are confident of receiving a high standard of care from opticians and that the vast majority of people have never had a reason to complain.

“The survey also shows a low level of public awareness of the role that opticians play in detecting eye health problems as opposed to improving vision. With only around a third of people associating opticians with detecting eye health problems and less than one in five saying they would turn first to their optician with an acute eye problem, there is clearly an opportunity to raise awareness of the roles that optometrists and dispensing opticians play in improving the UK’s eye health and a need to address the barriers to them making a greater contribution in the future.”

OCCS reports high public satisfaction rates

Council received the annual report for 2014/15 from the Optical Consumer Complaints Service (OCCS), reflecting the first year that Nockolds have been running the service on the GOC’s behalf. The report showed widespread satisfaction with the OCCS’ process, being rated 9 out of 10 by respondents to a survey. The respondents also rated their satisfaction with the outcome of the mediation process as 7.8 out of 10.

The OCCS reached a resolution in over 98 per cent of cases that it dealt with. 90 per cent of concluded enquiries were dealt with within 45 days, with 99 per cent within 52 days and 100 per cent within 90 days.

The report revealed that the OCCS received 622 enquiries regarding optical consumer complaints between April 2014 and 31 March 2015.

GOC Director of Fitness to Practise, Lisa Davis, said “It is very encouraging to see the positive start Nockolds have had in the first year of their service and that consumers have been so satisfied with their mediation process. The OCCS is extremely important to ensure that complaints raised by members of the public, patients and practitioners are satisfactorily concluded. We have seen the benefits of this with a resolution in over 98 per cent of all cases.

“We look forward to working further with Nockolds and in particular starting to gain insight into why complaints arise and escalate, as well as learning from trends that we have begun to track through the comprehensive data regularly provided by the service”.

The OCCS mediates all consumer complaints raised by members of the public, patients and optical professionals or practices regulated by the GOC. Nockolds Solicitors deliver the service for the GOC under a three year contract, which started on 1 April 2014.

Office move

Council were presented with an update on the upcoming building move from 41 Harley Street to the Farringdon area of London. It was noted that contractors are scheduled to begin work fitting out the property towards the end of May, with a provisional move in date of mid-August.

The GOC will surrender its lease on its current premises, a converted house on Harley Street, which it has occupied since 1958.

Further details of the building move can be found at

Other news

Council announced the appointment of new members of its Hearings Panel. The new members will begin their terms from July 2015. For full details of the appointments, please visit:

Council also noted the provisional outturn for the year ended 31 March 2015 and considered the fees to be paid to external auditors for their independent audit of the 2014/15 accounts.


For media enquiries please contact:

Simon Grier
Communications Manager
General Optical Council
t: 020 7307 3478


Notes to editors

1. Council papers are available to access at:

2. ComRes interviewed 2,250 UK adults by telephone, including 1,656 who have been to the opticians within the last two years, between the 18 November and 21 December 2014. Data were weighted to be representative of all UK adults aged 18+. ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. Full data tables are available at (patient data) and (UK adult data).

3. Council will next meet on 29 July 2015.


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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