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News from Council 16 November 2016

17 Nov 2016

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Education Strategic Review

Council agreed a call for evidence which the GOC will publish in December to kick off its Education Strategic Review.

The call for evidence asks stakeholders what core skills and knowledge optometrists and dispensing opticians will need in the future, particularly in light of the advance of technological change in the optical sector.

It also asks for views on the content of education programmes and on the GOC’s own role in quality assurance. It also covers the assessment of students and what barriers there might be to the GOC improving the system of optical education.

Alistair Bridge, GOC Director of Strategy, said: “With the rate of technological change in the sector and the increasing opportunities for registrants to deliver enhanced services, now is the time for us to carry out a fundamental review of optical education to enable registrants to meet the needs of patients in the future.

“This is an important project and we’ll only get it right if we have wide engagement across the sector. This call for evidence will give all interested parties – including patients, registrants and other optical professionals, employers, commissioners, professional bodies and of course education institutions – the chance to have their say on how optical education ought to look.”

The GOC plans to publish the call for evidence in December 2016. It will run for 12 weeks until March 2017.

Draft Strategic Plan

Council published its draft Strategic Plan for the period 2017-20.

The GOC will now consult with its stakeholders between now and January. The GOC’s three draft priorities are:

  • the learning and development of optical professionals
  • a targeted approach to regulation
  • organisational transformation

The plan will shape the GOC’s strategic direction from 1 April 2017 to 31 March 2020. The GOC will publish the draft plan for consultation on 21 November 2016 with a closing date of 23 January 2017.

Duty of candour guidance

Council agreed new registrant guidance on the duty of candour following a period of consultation with stakeholders.

All healthcare professionals have a professional duty of candour – this is a professional responsibility to be open, honest and transparent with patients when things go wrong. The GOC’s standards reflect this duty.

The guidance sets out how to meet the GOC’s standard on the professional duty of candour. It does not create new requirements or give legal advice.

The GOC refined the document after consultation with stakeholders including patients and the public, registrants, professional bodies, employers and insurers. It will be available on the GOC website in the coming weeks.

Registrant survey

Council heard the top-line results from the GOC’s recent registrants’ survey. Over 4,000 GOC registrants responded to the survey, carried out by the independent research agency Enventure.

The GOC will release the full survey results shortly and will also explain how it will act on the findings. The key findings include:

  • registrants have strongly backed the provision of enhanced optical services in the community;
  • the majority of respondents have considered getting extra qualifications to take on more enhanced services work in the future;
  • nearly half of all registrants had at some point in their career felt pressure to meet commercial targets at the expense of patient care;
  • almost half of all registrants would not feel comfortable raising a concern with the GOC;
  • the vast majority of registrants think their role will change significantly in the next five years; and
  • registrants have strongly backed the GOC’s new standards as being fair, and enabling them to develop their roles for the benefit of patients.

The GOC will release the full report of the survey, along with comment on its findings, in three volumes over the coming weeks:

  • Volume 1: the future of the optical professions
  • Volume 2: challenges in the work place
  • Volume 3: the GOC’s role and regulatory performance

The GOC has used the findings of the survey in developing its draft strategic plan.

Stakeholder perception survey

Council heard the results of a stakeholder perceptions survey carried out by independent research agency Populus.

Stakeholders identified disruptive technological change as one of the biggest challenges for the sector, alongside the changing roles of optometrists and the need to consider their education accordingly.

The survey, which took the form of 30 semi-structured interviews with senior people in key stakeholder bodies, showed that stakeholders generally regarded the GOC in a positive light.

The GOC has used the findings in developing its draft strategic plan. It can be found on the GOC website at

Registration fees

Council agreed a registration fee of £330 for the coming year for optometrists, dispensing opticians and optical businesses. This represents a £10 (3.1 per cent) increase.

To encourage prompt payment, registrants will need to pay the £330 fee by 15 March 2017. If they pay after this date, but before the final deadline of 31 March 2017, the fee will be £350.

Council also discussed longer-term fee planning and believe that any future fee increases should be moderate.

The GOC has also increased its student registration fee from £25 to £30 and has introduced initial registration fees to reflect the costs to the GOC of verifying qualifications and other supporting documents.

The GOC’s registration fees rules are available on its website at

Other news

Council agreed to spend additional time reviewing consultation feedback on consent guidance and to seek clinical input into the revised guidance.
Council agreed a revised GOC corporate complaints policy.


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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