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How the fitness to practise process works

The investigations process is built on principles of fairness. If we were to comment on a case whilst it is still being investigated, and before the proper legal assessment of evidence has taken place, our actions could undermine the investigation process.

Comments and speculation in the press or elsewhere may influence the outcome of a case. Therefore we will not respond to media enquiries of a specific nature, to ensure fairness to the registrant, the complainant, and the public as appropriate.

What can’t we comment on?

During the course of any investigation it is inappropriate for us to:

  • Discuss individual cases in any way
  • Comment on whether an investigation is currently in progress or pending
  • Confirm or deny that we are investigating a particular individual or body corporate . (If a case is referred for a fitness to practise hearing, we will publish details around two months before the hearing takes place).
  • We only ever correspond with those who are the subject of an investigation through formal channels (either our Fitness to Practise team or through solicitors). It is inappropriate for us to enter into any correspondence through the media or other channels.

Anyone can complain to us if they think a GOC registrant is not fit to practise (or train or run a GOC-registered business). We receive complaints from members of the public, patients, carers, employers, the police and other GOC registrants.

A complaint that a GOC registrant may not be fit to practise can be as a result of one or more of a number of different factors including:

  • Poor professional performance
  • Physical or mental health problems affecting their work
  • Inappropriate behaviour
  • Being under the influence of alcohol or drugs at work
  • Fraud or dishonesty
  • A criminal conviction or caution
  • A finding by another regulatory body

When we have investigated a complaint it is considered by our case examiners. Two case examiners (one lay and one registrant) consider each case; if they believe a registrant’s fitness to practise is impaired, they can refer the case for a full fitness to practise hearing.

Full hearings are held in public. If you wish to attend a hearing, please see the attending hearings page of our website

For information on how hearings work, please see this page of our website.

Following a hearing, we publish the determination on the past hearings page of our website. If the registrant is erased or suspended from our registers we will also issue a press release.

A registrant who is erased or suspended from our registers is then unable to practice optometry or dispensing optics in the UK, or to use protected titles such as optometrist , dispensing optician or optician.

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