Legislative reform
General Optical Council

Legislative reform 

 
There has been a lot of focus on reform of healthcare regulation recently following a Government consultation last year.
 
Some of this reform is long overdue and we have been pushing for it for some time.
The Opticians Act has not had a major update since 2005 but much of it dates back even longer. This means that some our outdated legislation hampers our ability to operate as efficiently as we’d like to.
 
Pushing for change
Some of the major changes we’d like to see would give us flexibility to set more of our own rules, adapting to the fast-changing nature of the optical professions. With an ageing population and changes to the services that our registrants deliver, we see this as vital for maintaining patient safety in a rapidly changing landscape.
 
The rules that govern fitness to practise are also ripe for reform, which would help us to make the process more efficient, in the interests of patients and registrants alike.
 
And we are also pushing for legislative change so that all optical businesses carrying out our restricted functions would have to register with the GOC, as opposed to the current system whereby only some of them have to, according to their business structure and their title.
 
It would create a level playing field for all optical businesses and give both patients and practitioners assurance that all businesses were regulated.
 
Merging regulators?
A lot of what has been covered in the media around reform has related to possibility of merging regulators. However we do not see any evidence that this would lead to an improvement in patient safety or to improved standards within the healthcare workforce. 
 
This is particularly so because all of the regulators have a broadly similar model of operation, which is currently very dependent upon a need to have a range of expertise and focus necessary to deal with the complex issues associated with individual professional groups. Over time mergers could lead to less effective regulation and potentially lower standards. 
 
Regulation must also account for changing patient pathways, with more multidisciplinary working. Therefore, we will continue to make the case that the fast-changing optical sector is best served by a specialist regulator.
 

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