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News from Council 16 May 2013

21 May 2013

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Implications of the Francis Inquiry

Council members discussed the implications of the Francis Inquiry for the GOC. Council noted that the Inquiry’s recommendations and the Government’s response will affect all healthcare regulators and agreed that the GOC should provide a considered and proportionate response.

Council considered the Inquiry’s emphasis on candour and openness to be particularly important. The GOC will consider whether registrants need more detailed guidance on raising concerns and how it might collaborate with other bodies to help foster an open culture throughout UK healthcare. This will take place as part of the Council’s standards review already planned for this financial year.

Other issues of importance include looking at how the GOC handles complaints; considering whether the GOC’s standards and education place enough emphasis on care, compassion and working with vulnerable people; and whether the GOC should do more to increase public awareness of its role.

The GOC will consider the implications of the Inquiry as part of a number of projects already in its business plan, including its review of standards and its reviews of student and business regulation. The GOC will also consider the findings of the Inquiry in developing its next strategic plan.

GOC Chief Executive and Registrar Samantha Peters said, “Although our registrants were not directly implicated in the Mid-Staffs scandal, there are lessons for all healthcare regulators.

“I’d like to reassure patients that we will ensure we learn from, and act on, these lessons. I’d also like to reassure registrants that any changes we make in response will be proportionate and suitable for the professions we regulate.”

Guidance on FTP Rule 16 consultation

Council has agreed to a focused consultation on draft guidance for its Fitness to Practise (FTP) Rule 16. Following consultation, the guidance will support the GOC’s Investigation Committee (IC) members in making and determining a Rule 16 application – which is to review and possibly cancel a case previously referred to the Fitness to Practise Committee.

Rule 16 is a common ‘checks and balances’ provision for healthcare regulators. It would usually be applied when new evidence or information comes to light between the IC’s decision and the scheduled FTP hearing.

The GOC will launch the consultation this week. It will run for 12 weeks. Following the consultation, Council will review the responses before approving the final guidance at its meeting on 14 November.

Committee membership

Council approved the appointment of Council members to the GOC’s statutory advisory committees. Council members will now chair the committees; previously, they were chaired by members of staff.

The move will strengthen Council’s relationship with the advisory committees (Standards, Education, Registration and Companies) and ensure that it is able to take full account of their advice. As well as being chaired by a lay member, an additional lay member and a registrant member will also serve on each committee.

A full list of which members have been appointed to each committee is available in the annex to the relevant Council paper.

Other news

Council received an update on the behaviours associated with the GOC’s organisational values of being responsible, principled and forward-thinking; agreed terms of reference for the GOC Nominations Committee, which has a number of roles in the recruitment of the GOC Chair and Council members, and other non-executive roles; and noted the work over the last year of its Audit and Risk Committee.

Next meeting – Thursday 11 July 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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