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News from Council, 26 July 2016

28 Jul 2016

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Public perceptions research

Council was presented with findings from the GOC’s second public perceptions survey, which showed that people in the devolved nations of the UK were more likely to visit an optician if they had an acute eye problem than those in England.

31 per cent of Scots would first visit an optician if they woke up with an eye problem compared to 26 per cent in Wales, 25 per cent in Northern Ireland and just 18 per cent in England.

Across the UK just 22 per cent of respondents said they would go first to their optician, with 40 per cent saying their GP would be their first port of call.

The independent survey asked 3,252 members of the public from across the UK their views on opticians and showed continued public satisfaction with opticians.

89 per cent of respondents said they were confident they would receive a high standard of care from an optician, with 97 per cent of patients, defined as someone who had visited an optician in the past two years, reporting high satisfaction levels with the optician they had seen.

The survey also found that the main association with opticians is providing sight tests rather than detecting and treating eye health problems. 40 per cent of those surveyed saw themselves primarily as a customer when visiting their optician, closely followed by 37 per cent who saw themselves as a combination of both a customer and patient. Only one in five (21 per cent) saw themselves as just a patient.

GOC Chief Executive and Registrar Samantha Peters said “The findings from this report are very insightful and, when combined with last year’s public survey, only serve to reinforce the need to highlight the important role optometrists and dispensing opticians can play in detecting and treating eye conditions. Optical professionals are specialists in this area, and it is vital that the whole sector raises awareness of the work they can do in this area, particularly in England where awareness is lowest.

“It is pleasing to see such a high level of public confidence in opticians, and this is reinforced by the fact that 92 per cent of respondents said they have not complained or considered complaining about their experience with an optician – the same figure as found in last year’s survey.”

The survey findings can be found in the Council paper at https://www.optical.org/en/get-involved/Council_meetings_and_papers/july-2016.cfm

Courses accredited

Council gave full accreditation to a course at Anglia Ruskin University as well as provisionally approving new courses at Cardiff University and University of Portsmouth:

  • The course accredited at Anglia Ruskin University is a Foundation of Science (FdSc) in Ophthalmic Dispensing, which had first been provisionally approved in 2010.
  • Provisional approval was given to a Masters course in Optometry (MOptom) at Portsmouth University. The MOptom is a four year course with the initial cohort of students limited to 16.
  • Provisional approval was given to a Post-Graduate Certificate in Therapeutic Prescribing for Optometrists at Cardiff University. It is to be offered to a maximum of 24 students initially.

Nockolds contract extended

Council extended the current contract for Nockolds Solicitors to provide the Opticial Consumer Complaints Service (OCCS) for a further period of two years from 1 April 2017.

Nockolds have provided the service since April 2014 and the new contract will run until March 2019.

Council noted that there had been a proactive and successful first two years for the OCCS under Nockolds’ tenure, with the core aim of the service to mediate consumer complaints being achieved.

Other news

Council approved of a framework for the accreditation and quality assurance of education providers which makes clearer the GOC’s role and expectations of education providers.

Council approved an Internal Speaking Up (whistleblowing) policy and an internal Investigations Policy.

The Internal Speaking Up policy supports the raising of concerns that disclose allegations of wrongdoing/malpractice at the GOC, while the Internal Investigations Policy provides the framework under which complaints will be investigated.

Council also noted the timeline for the recruitment of two new registrant and two new lay Council members, due to commence their terms of office from 1 April 2017.

GOC Chair Gareth Hadley paid tribute to outgoing Council member Brian Coulter and outgoing Director of Resources Josie Lloyd. Brian finishes his second term of office on 30 September 2016 and the GOC will name his replacement in the coming weeks. Josie Lloyd left the GOC on 26 July to take up a new role. Her interim replacement Mark Webster is already in place (for more details see https://www.optical.org/en/news_publications/news_item.cfm/goc-appoints-new-interim-director-of-resources).

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. Council papers are available at: https://www.optical.org/en/get-involved/Council_meetings_and_papers/index.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 29,000 optometrists, dispensing opticians, student opticians and optical businesses.

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