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Opchat Magazine Professional Matters PagesProfessional Matters News, January to March 2017


Breaking News for Profession ~ Government Freezes Sight Test Fees
GOC erases Bolton-based dispensing optician.
GOC suspends Dumfries-based dispensing optician.
GOC suspends Leeds optometrist.
GOC announces appointment of four new Council members.
GOC publishes guidance on professional duty of candour.
Tenby-based optometrist erased from GOC register.
College of Optometrists launches a rebrand and new website.
The AOP calls for nominations to make a difference in optics.
Annual General Meeting of the College of Optometrists announced and Annual Report published.
News from the General Optical Council
Hertfordshire-based dispensing optician erased from GOC register.
AOP launches Voice of the Profession survey panel
WCO announces new MD.
AOP seeks volunteers to provide vital peer support line.
GOC suspends Manchester optometrist.
Results of the College of Optometrists’ Council election are announced.
College of Optometrists launches new framework to support the profession’s supervisors.
GOC registration renewal open for 2017/18.
Gareth Hadley reappointed as Chair of the GOC Council.
GOC announces new appointments to its statutory advisory committees.
GOC suspends Norfolk optometrist.

Breaking News for Profession ~ Government Freezes Sight Test Fees Again!

March 2017

The Government has today announced its intention to freeze NHS sight test fees in England for the second year in a row, leaving them at 2015-16 levels for 2017-18. Optical vouchers, which provide help to patients on low incomes and to children who need spectacles, have also been frozen.

The continuing education & training (CET) grant will however increase by 1% and the grant to train preregistration optometrists by 1%.

Mike George, Chair of the Optometric Fees Negotiating Committee said: “We are extremely disappointed that NHS sight test fees have been frozen for a second year in a row. We appreciate the financial challenges facing the NHS and we understand that all parts of the health sector need to play their part in addressing that challenge. But there is no way we can advise the profession to accept such an offer which is clearly not in their long term interests and more importantly is not in the best interests of patients.”

He continued, “It is particularly frustrating that the NHS sight test – which is a very cost effective part of the NHS – continues to be underfunded, while at the same time NHS England is failing to make greater and more effective use of community optical practices to deliver primary eye care, which could help significantly to address the pressures on GPs and hospital ophthalmology departments and would provide better, more convenient care to patients.”

Ann Blackmore, OFNC Secretary said: “Year on year our members are facing real increases in their costs – largely as a direct result of government policies and contract requirements – which the government refuses to recognise. And on top of that they have been expected to cope with the administrative and financial chaos resulting from the incompetence of Capita and NHS England in delivering primary care support services. We will be looking now to government to provide compensation to the sector for this fiasco as a matter of urgency.

It is to our members’ credit that they have continued to provide a full range of services to patients across the country despite these challenges – but this will become increasingly hard to do. The real terms cut in voucher values will be particularly hard on many patients.”

GOC erases Bolton-based dispensing optician.

March 2017

The General Optical Council (GOC), the UK regulator for optometrists and dispensing opticians, has decided to erase Martin Clough, a dispensing optician based in Bolton, from its register. He will now be unable to practise in the UK.

A GOC Fitness to Practise Committee found his fitness to practise impaired by virtue of convictions for six counts of voyeurism. For almost a year Mr Clough used a small hidden camera installed in the toilets of his practice to record images of members of his staff and customers.

In making the decision, the Committee, chaired by Ian Crookall, said:

“The registrant has abused the trust placed in him as a registered dispensing optician by violating the privacy of staff and patients in the most intrusive way over a prolonged period of time.

“This was a serious departure from professional standards, caused serious harm to individuals, was an abuse of his position of trust, and involved offences of a sexual nature. The registrant’s conduct was deplorable and fundamentally incompatible with continued registration.”

Mr Clough has until 17 April 2017 to appeal his erasure, during which time he is suspended from the register under an immediate suspension order.

GOC suspends Dumfries-based dispensing optician.

March 2017

The General Optical Council (GOC), the UK regulator for optometrists and dispensing opticians, has decided to suspend Alexander Farquharson, a dispensing optician based in Dumfries, from its register for a period of six months.

A GOC Fitness to Practise Committee found his fitness to practise impaired by virtue of failures relating to patient care and the transfer of records.

In making the decision, the Committee, chaired by Anne Johnstone, said: “Mr Farquharson had failed to provide an adequate standard care to a patient and had not arranged for the transfer of patient medical records after his practice had closed.

“The Committee found that his conduct amounted to a serious breach of the GOC’s standards. The registrant had not engaged, demonstrated insight nor offered evidence of any attempt to remedy his misconduct. In considering the sanction therefore, the Committee was persuaded that a period of six months suspension was appropriate and proportionate in satisfying the public protection and maintaining confidence in the profession.

“The Committee was satisfied that erasure was disproportionate, given that the registrant’s conduct was not fundamentally incompatible with continued registration.”

Mr Farquharson has until 14 April 2017 to appeal his suspension, during which time he is suspended from the register under an immediate suspension order.

GOC suspends Leeds optometrist.

March 2017

The General Optical Council (GOC), the UK regulator for optometrists and dispensing opticians, has decided to suspend Simone Boyd, an optometrist based in Leeds, from its register for a period of 12 months.

A GOC Fitness to Practise Committee found her fitness to practise impaired by virtue of multiple submissions of false receipts for financial gain over a ten year period.

In making the decision, the Committee, chaired by Ian Crookall, said:

“The Committee determined that the registrant’s past actions had brought the profession into disrepute and breached fundamental tenets of the profession.

“Ms Boyd has developed insight however, as evidenced by her early admission to these matters and her full cooperation with the GOC investigation process. She had a previously unblemished career and the Committee had received a number of references demonstrating that Ms Boyd is a very competent and highly experienced optometrist.

“In the circumstances of this case, the Committee is therefore satisfied that a period of suspension is sufficient to uphold professional standards and public confidence in the optometry profession and in the GOC as a regulator.”

Ms Boyd will begin her 12 month suspension period on 6 April 2017 if no appeal is lodged by this date.

GOC announces appointment of four new Council members.

March 2017

The General Optical Council (GOC) has today announced that it has appointed four new members to its Council – two registrants and two lay members.

Josie Forte and Roshni Samra will join the Council as registrant members and Clare Minchington and Mike Galvin will join as lay members.

All new appointees will take up their posts on 1 April 2017.

Commenting on the new appointments, GOC Chair, Gareth Hadley said “I am delighted to welcome Clare, Mike, Josie and Roshni to Council. They bring with them a wealth of skills and experience of the optical professions, education and working at board level.

“They will be joining the Council at a crucial time, particularly as we increase our focus on education through our Education Strategic Review. I am confident that the experience our new members possess will allow them to make an invaluable contribution to this important project.
“I look forward to working closely with all new members to ensure that the Council’s work continues to protect and promote the public’s health and safety.”

Josie Forte is a qualified optometrist and has experience of working in hospital practice, independent practice and a brief spell practising in New Zealand. She is currently a Lead Assessor for the Welsh Optometric Postgraduate Education Centre (WOPEC), and is also a Specsavers Optical and Audiology Joint Venture Partner.

Roshni Samra has a wealth of experience as a refractive surgery optometrist. In 2014 she was awarded the College of Optometrists Professional Certificate in Glaucoma. Roshni is currently the Professional Clinic Manager for City Sight, City, University of London, where she is responsible for the coordination and running of optometry clinical services.

Clare Minchington is a chartered accountant and a non-executive director of BPP University and Policy Connect. She was previously an executive director of the professional accountancy body ACCA and Chair of the Dean’s Advisory Board for Oxford Brookes University Business School. She currently works as a strategic consultant for professional bodies and universities.

Mike Galvin is a professional engineer and has over 15 years’ experience working at board level in technology research and innovation in telecommunications. He has held non-executive positions with the UK Council for Child Internet Safety and is currently Managing Director at BT plc for Future Broadband Networks and IT Security.

Council sets the GOC’s strategic direction and ensures that its statutory functions are delivered effectively and efficiently by holding the executive to account.

The appointments were confirmed by the Privy Council after the Professional Standards Authority (PSA) confirmed that the GOC’s recruitment process was appropriate.

GOC publishes guidance on professional duty of candour.

March 2017

The General Optical Council (GOC) has today published guidance to assist registrants in meeting its standard relating to the professional duty of candour that requires all those working in healthcare to be open, honest and transparent with patients when things go wrong and a patient has suffered physical or psychological harm or distress, or there might be implications for their future care.

Marcus Dye, GOC Head of Education and Standards said, “In our recent Registrant Survey, 86 percent of respondents told us they felt confident in their ability to meet our new Standards of Practice.

However it was clear when we consulted on the Standards that registrants wanted more guidance to help them apply the professional duty of candour in practice. Candour is a relatively new concept in healthcare, so it’s not surprising that registrants asked for further help in this area.

“This guidance will help to support our registrants and give them extra confidence in applying the standard relating to the professional duty of candour.”

The guidance on the standards around the professional duty of candour can be found on the GOC website here.

Tenby-based optometrist erased from GOC register.

March 2017

The General Optical Council (GOC), the UK regulator for optometrists and dispensing opticians, has decided to erase John Stevenson, an optometrist based in Tenby, from its registers, meaning that he will be unable to practise as an optometrist in the UK.

A GOC Fitness to Practise Committee found his fitness to practise impaired by virtue of multiple failures relating to patient care and record keeping.

In making the decision, the Chair of the Committee Ian Crookall, said:

“Mr Stevenson’s issues with record keeping were symptomatic of an underlying problem that he did not recognise the importance of having his records independently audited and assessed.

“He had been subject to conditional registration for a period of over four years, during which time he had not demonstrated any attempt to correct his practise and had showed a disregard for the GOC’s disciplinary process.

“The Committee therefore determined that erasure was the only appropriate and proportionate sanction in this case to both protect the public and maintain public confidence in the profession and the GOC as its regulator.”

Mr Stevenson’s current conditional order expires on 29 March 2017 and should no appeal be lodged against the erasure order, he will be erased from the register on that date.

College of Optometrists launches a rebrand and new website.

February 2017

The College of Optometrists has launched a rebrand, which sees a reworking of the College crest and new strap line, and a new website which includes a range of features for members.

college sticker

As part of the rebrand, the College’s logo, including its crest, has been refreshed and modernised.

College members will receive a new window sticker to display in their practice to give greater prominence to their membership or fellowship with patients.

Members will also be able to download a new member logo for use on their practice websites and stationery. The College branding is complemented by a new strap line; ‘Professional Excellence in Eye Health’.

college websiteIn addition, the new website will allow members to manage more of their membership services online. It will enable members to search College resources by subject, via a new topic area, and to save items to a

‘My favourites’ page. Members can also update their member directory entry. The new College website also has an area devoted to the College’s growing range of CPD and CET resources.

Ian Humphreys, Chief Executive of the College of Optometrists, said: “The College’s rebrand builds on the work we have been doing with our Board and Council in setting a clear focus for what the College stands for, and the support members can expect from us. This is reflected in our new strap line;

‘Professional Excellence in Eye Health’, which demonstrates what our members provide to their patients and the public.

“The revised and modernised crest has been designed to be used in practice and will give greater prominence to College members, and reinforce the role of the optometrist as a health professional.

“Our new look also coincides with the launch of the College’s new website. Both are designed to increase the benefit and visibility of College membership and to reflect the changing demands of modern practice. The new member window sticker will work alongside member lapel badges, the College’s highly successful patient leaflet series, member directory and consumer-facing website ‘Look After Your Eyes’, in raising public awareness of the profession and membership of the UK’s optometric professional body.”

The AOP calls for nominations to make a difference in optics.

February 2017

The Association of Optometrists (AOP) is calling for members who want to make a difference in optics to put themselves forward for the AOP Council elections.

The nominations period, which starts today, will run for three weeks, closing at midnight 20 March.

AOP Councillors are appointed to act on behalf of members – ensuring that views from across the UK and within the profession are represented in the AOP’s policy-making.

There are 11 regional Council positions open for election in 2017, across the UK. Additionally, the AOP is calling for applications for two designated posts – Undergraduate Student Optometrist and Pre-registration Optometrist.

Speaking about her role, AOP Councillor for the West Midlands, Francesca Marchetti said: “Being a Councillor offers such great opportunities – I’ve had the chance to work on so many different areas such as vision and driving, primary care, lobbying Parliament, to name but a few. I’ve worked with such a variety of people from so many different optical backgrounds. The fabulous thing is that we are all working together to ensure the secure and forever evolving role of optometry for the future.”

Karan Vyas, who holds the designated position of Pre-registration Optometrist said: “If you want to make a change, AOP Council is one of the best ways to do it. It’s shown me that you can get involved in so many aspects of optics – from commissioning to the services that optometrists can provide. I’d encourage anyone who feels passionately about the profession to put yourself forward, make your voice heard and make a real difference.”

Henrietta Alderman, AOP Chief Executive, said: “With significant items on the agenda, including the GOC Education Strategic Review, enhanced services and the future impact of technology, it’s a very interesting time to get involved in the work of the AOP Council. We need Councillors at all career stages and modes of practice, so if you are keen to work on behalf of your peers and want to play a part in shaping the future, now is the time to apply to become a regional or designated representative.”

The AOP is encouraging applications from both new members and existing Council representatives. Following the nominations process, the voting period will be open from 3 April until 24 April.

For more information, including the role of Councillors, the election timetable and a video of why being an AOP Councillor is rewarding work visit the AOP website

Annual General Meeting of the College of Optometrists announced and Annual Report published.

February 2017

The College's next AGM takes place during Optometry Tomorrow 2017 on Monday 20. Download the agenda here.

The latest Annual Report, focuses on the College's achievements during the last membership year.

For example, we awarded over 13,000 interactive CET points at our events, fielded 29% more clinical queries from members, and continued in our efforts to increase public trust and confidence in the profession with over 600 pieces of media coverage. Read the report here.

News from the General Optical Council

February 2017

Strategic plan

Council agreed its Strategic Plan for the period April 2017 to March 2020, following a public consultation. The GOC’s three priorities for the coming three years are:

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

Director of Strategy Alistair Bridge said: “As the optical sector faces a period of substantial change, our new Strategic Plan highlights our commitment to ensuring that optical professionals are equipped for the roles of the future, with the delivery of our Education Strategic Review being a top priority. There is still time for stakeholders to respond to the call for evidence which launched the Review. This consultation is open until 15 March and we really encourage anyone with an interest in the future of the optical professions to get involved – including individual practitioners.”

Council Members emphasised the need for the plan to be flexible enough to adapt to the changing nature of the sector and the importance of the GOC measuring its performance against the objectives.

Council also agreed the 2017/18 Business Plan and Budget in support of the Strategic Plan.

Consent guidance

Council agreed new guidance for registrants on meeting its standard related to obtaining valid consent. This followed a period of consultation with stakeholders.

The GOC’s standards reflect the importance of registrants obtaining valid consent when undertaking activities related to their professional roles.

The guidance sets out how to meet the GOC’s standard on obtaining valid consent. It does not create new requirements or give legal advice.

Marcus Dye, Head of Education and Standards, said: “This is a complex area where registrants had requested guidance, so we have worked hard to ensure the guidance can be applied easily in practice. We encourage all registrants to read and digest it, so that when it is used together with their own professional judgement, the guidance can support them in meeting our standards and delivering high quality patient care.”

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 April.

Courses accredited

Council gave full accreditation to courses at Plymouth University and Ulster University:

• The course accredited at Plymouth University is a BSc in Optometry
• The course approved at Ulster University is a Post-Graduate Certificate in Independent Prescribing for Optometrists

New education courses must first receive provisional approval. They do not receive full accreditation until the GOC has ensured that the course meet its requirements. This accreditation process includes tracking at least one cohort of students through the full duration of the course.

Equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) Scheme and Update

Council approved the GOC’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Scheme 2017-2020 for a six week consultation.

Council noted the progress made in achieving our objectives, including the roll out of online EDI training for staff and improving the Impact Assessment process. It was noted that there had been significant progress in this area, and that we will be seeking to improve the capturing and reporting of EDI.

Other news

Council confirmed the reappointment of Helen Tilley and Scott Mackie as Council members for four more years, following their approval by the Privy Council.

Council reappointed Haysmacintyre as the GOC external auditors for a further two years until 11 February 2019 and approved the fee for the 2016/17 audit.

Council approved the Working Capital Policy and Investment Policy Statement and decided its preferred option to best oversee investment performance.

Council Chair Gareth Hadley thanked and paid tribute to the four outgoing Council Members – Liam Kite, Paul Carroll, Fiona Peel and Peter Douglas. Their terms come to an end on 31 March. The GOC will announce their replacements in the coming weeks.

Hertfordshire-based dispensing optician erased from GOC register.

February 2017

The General Optical Council (GOC), the UK regulator for optometrists and dispensing opticians, has erased Philip Egan, a dispensing optician based in Hertfordshire, from its registers. He is now unable to practise as a dispensing optician in the UK.

A GOC Fitness to Practise Committee found his fitness to practise impaired by reason of misconduct related to convictions for assault, stalking and perverting the course of justice.

In making the decision, the Committee, chaired by Ian Crookall, said:

“Mr. Egan’s actions did not amount to a one-off incident but represented a sustained and continuous course of conduct over a considerable amount of time. Mr. Egan’s violent behaviour and dishonesty fell well short of the standards expected from his profession and brought the reputation of the profession into disrepute.

“Mr. Egan has admitted many of the particulars and the Committee noted a degree of remorse. It also noted that no question had been raised in relation to his clinical competence. However, his insight into his conduct was limited and the Committee is not satisfied, therefore, that he is fully engaged with the consequences of his behaviour. Consequently, the Committee concluded that there was a real risk of repetition of the misconduct found proved in this case.

“The sanction of erasure was the only proportionate outcome in this case, to uphold proper standards of conduct and to maintain confidence in the profession and in its regulation.”
Mr. Egan has until 22 March 2017 to appeal his erasure, during which time he is suspended from the register and is unable to practise. If no appeal is lodged by this date, he will be erased from the register.

AOP launches Voice of the Profession survey panel

February 2017

The Association of Optometrists (AOP) today launches a survey panel aimed at raising the profile of optometry and eye health. The new Voice the Profession insight panel will give optical professionals a unique opportunity to share their thoughts on eye health issues.

AOP members who join the panel will be asked to answer three online surveys throughout the year. The statistics will then be used by the AOP to promote positive stories in the media that increase understanding of optometry and instil better eye health habits among the public.

The first 15-minute survey is being sent to all practising UK members – inviting them to take part and contribute to future research by becoming an ongoing panel member. Among the topics included in this initial survey are the links between good vision and safe driving, the lifestyle factors impacting sight and common misconceptions about eye health.

Chief Executive of the AOP, Henrietta Alderman, said: "The AOP is delighted to be launching this important new initiative which is designed to support a more public profile for optics. We know that this is increasingly important to our members and this project will underpin some of our longer-term goals for external facing work. Having this valuable statistical data will strengthen our position – giving us the campaign power to champion the profession and the issues that practitioners care about."

Ms Alderman added: "We hope that our members see this as an excellent way of ensuring their voice is represented and will support us in this endeavour to bring optometry and eye health issues to the fore."

Each year, panel members will be asked to complete one 15-minute survey and two smaller surveys. In total, panel members will be asked to commit less than hour of their time annually.

Findings of the survey will be reported on a general, rather than individual, level and all views of panel members will remain anonymous.

WCO announces new MD.

January 2017

The World Council of Optometry (WCO) announces the selection of Susan J. Chiles M.A. as Managing Director.

‘We are very pleased to announce this appointment’, reports President Uduak Udom. “Susan will bring leadership and creativity to WCO along with a deep sense of commitment to our profession.”

WCO is a non-profit membership association with a mission to support optometrists in promoting eye health and vision care as a human right through advocacy, education, policy development and humanitarian outreach.

Most recently, Ms. Chiles has been the Marketing Communications Manager in the Affiliate Relations and Membership Group at the American Optometric Association (AOA) and currently serves as President of the St. Louis Institute for Association Leadership. Susan has worked in corporate marketing, communications, and brand management for more than 20 years. In addition to her M.A. in Media Communications, Ms Chiles earned a Certificate in Membership Management from ASAE University, with a three-part focus on Membership Principles, Leadership Management, and Advanced Membership.

Ms. Chiles brings a breadth of perspective and experience, having worked with volunteer optometrists at the AOA for the past 6 years. As WCO Managing Director, Susan will work with the Officers, Executive Committee, and Governing Board of the WCO in fulfilling the organization’s mission to facilitate the development of optometry around the world. A key component of her new position will be to direct all aspects of the WCO’s relationship with its membership including recruitment and retention, fiscal management and marketing and communications.

“It is an honour and a privilege to join the WCO and I look forward to continuing to serve optometry in this new role," Ms. Chiles said.

This is an exciting time for WCO as we look forward to hosting the 2nd World Congress of Optometry being held in Hyderabad, India from September 11-13, 2017. The Congress is an initiative of the WCO in partnership with the Asia Pacific Council of Optometry (APCO) and the India Vision Institute (IVI). The central theme of the meeting, ‘Accessible, Quality Vision and Eye Health’ complements the World Health Organization (WHO) Global Action Plan of ‘Universal Eye Health’ with a goal of universal access to comprehensive eye care services.

AOP seeks volunteers to provide vital peer support line.

Janaury 2017

The Association of Optometrists (AOP) is seeking members to volunteer for an important new service which aims to offer peer-to-peer support for those suffering with stress or anxiety.

The AOP Peer Support Line will provide a listening service for qualified optometrists, dispensing opticians and students, and is designed specifically for the profession.

The service will provide callers with the opportunity to talk anonymously and in confidence to a fellow optical professional about stress they are facing in their work or home life.

Volunteers will take calls on a range of situations which could include stress caused by workplace pressure, bullying, ill health, financial worries, bereavement or anxiety about exams. Volunteers will not provide advice but will listen to the concerns of the caller empathetically and, where appropriate, signpost them to third parties for practical advice and information.

Chief Executive of the AOP, Henrietta Alderman, said: "The AOP has recognised that there is a need for support of this type to be available to those working in the profession and struggling with worries that fall outside of our established legal, clinical or regulatory advice. We are launching the AOP Peer Support Line to bridge that gap between the practical advice in our current offering, and emotional support needed for more personal and sensitive situations.”

Ms Alderman added: “Volunteering for this service offers members a unique opportunity to take an active role in shaping the support network available and positively contributing to the wellbeing of their peers."

Chairwoman of the Peer Support Line, Thurka Sivapalan, said: "Stress can have a profound effect on someone’s day-to-day life and presents itself in many forms and for a variety of reasons. Often the first step to managing an issue is talking about it, but for those who are finding it hard to ask for help, or feel they will be burdening their family and friends it can be difficult to know where to turn. Having access to a service like this, to talk through issues, can be an absolute lifeline."

The AOP Peer Support Line will be a phone service staffed by optical professionals – with the aim of providing callers with fast confidential access to trained volunteers who understand the pressures of optometry life. The AOP is looking for optometrists and dispensing opticians, at a range of levels, who are able to commit to two days each month to be ‘on call’.

The service will be launched in early summer 2017. More information about this volunteer position and training available to support the role is available from the AOP.

GOC suspends Manchester optometrist.

January 2017

The General Optical Council (GOC), the UK regulator for optometrists and dispensing opticians, has suspended Stewart Clough, an optometrist based in Manchester, from its register for a period of 12 months.

A GOC Fitness to Practise Committee found his fitness to practise impaired by virtue of matters of misconduct relating to inappropriate behaviour towards a patient and attempts to frustrate the GOC’s investigation process.

In making the decision, the Committee, chaired by Anne Johnstone, said:

“The Committee was quite satisfied that the Registrant’s actions were serious and fell well below the standards expected of a registered optometrist.

“To reflect the seriousness with which it views the Registrant’s misconduct, and in particular the preparation and delivery of a letter to the Registrant inviting her to withdraw the complaint, it decided that the misconduct should be marked by a 12 month suspension order.

“However, the Committee bore in mind that this Registrant had a previously unblemished career of over 30 years. There had been no previous referrals to the regulator. The Committee received a number of references from professional colleagues and others who spoke highly of the Registrant and found his actions to be out of character.

“Taking into account the Registrant’s testimony, the Committee concluded that during the course of the proceedings the Registrant had developed further insight into the consequences of his actions and for the reputation of the profession generally. The Committee was satisfied that erasure was disproportionate and that the public interest was properly addressed through the imposition of a suspension order.”

Mr. Clough will begin his 12 month suspension period on 16 February 2017 if no appeal is lodged before this date.

Results of the College of Optometrists’ Council election are announced.

January 2017

The College of Optometrists has today announced the names of its newest Council members. Laura Sweeney (MCOptom) has been elected as a College Council member for Scotland, Ceri Probert (MCOptom) will represent members in Wales, Russell Dawkins (MCOptom) will join as a Council member for the London region, Ian White (MCOptom) will represent the North West and Lucy Hall (MCOptom) and Angharad Hobby (MCOptom) will both become College Council members for the South East.

The election process also saw three existing Council members re-elected:
• Geraint Griffiths (MCOptom) for the East Midlands.
• Shamina Asif (MCOptom) and Francesca Marchetti (MCOptom) for the West Midlands.

Two Council members have retained their seats in uncontested elections; Barbara Watson (FCOptom) for Yorkshire and Humber and Tony Gibson (MCOptom) for the North East.

New Council member, Ceri Probert MCOptom, said; “I’m delighted to have the opportunity to represent my region on the College’s Council. I’m looking forward to playing a role in shaping the future direction of the College and the profession. I think that optometrists have for too long been undervalued as healthcare practitioners. In the ever changing world of healthcare, I feel that we have a considerable and growing role to play in improving the health and wellbeing of our patients. I am passionate about promoting optometry as a profession and feel that, by being a member of Council, I can contribute a small piece to this jigsaw.”

Dr Mary-Ann Sherratt MCOptom, President of the College of Optometrists, said: “I would like to congratulate all the successful candidates and I look forward to welcoming them on to College Council. Our Council takes responsibility to determine the strategic and professional direction of the College so it’s very important that we have engaged ambassadors that will bring the views of our members from the regions directly to us.

“I would also like to thank and recognise all the outgoing Council members for their enormous contribution and work over the years, namely Ian Jarvis, Lisa Gerson, Krupa Patel, Neil Retallic, Kamlesh Chauhan, Sanjay Patel and Adam Wannell.”

Membership of the College’s Council gives members and fellows the opportunity to represent colleagues, promote their profession and help shape the future of optometry.

The new Council members will begin their terms after the College of Optometrists AGM which is held on 20 March 2017 as part of its annual conference, Optometry Tomorrow.

College of Optometrists launches new framework to support the profession’s supervisors.

January 2017

The College of Optometrists today launched its first ever Competency Framework for Supervisors for those supervising trainees in the College’s Scheme for Registration. The document, available to College members on the website, will build on the support already offered by clearly defining what is required of College supervisors.

The Framework aims to ensure that supervisors who are guiding the next generation of optometrists through the College’s Scheme for Registration are aware of how the GOC’s Standards of Practice, launched last year, relate to supervision. It outlines skill areas that supervisors need to support a trainee effectively, includes guidance on knowledge of the scheme itself, day-to-day supervision expectations and guidance on how a trainee should be helped in preparation for assessments.

The document will be followed in the spring by the launch of a brand new online training package for supervisors, for which CET points will be available.

Ruth Brough FCOptom, College of Optometrists Lead Assessor, said: “We have worked hard to ensure this new Framework makes clear the skills supervisors need in order to provide support to their trainees and to ensure that their trainee is meeting the outlined standards. We are confident that this will prove to be an invaluable tool for supervisors. This document may also help employees in identifying appropriate supervisors and the skills and support they might need to be effective in the role. We need supervisors to develop the profession and those who take on the role have the opportunity to support someone progress in their career and see them become an effective optometrist.”

College supervisor Lucy Hall MCOptom said: “This framework will be useful as a reference point for both new and existing supervisors. It will be very helpful for long term and day-to-day planning and ensuring that we’re doing the best job possible for our trainees, who in turn are ensuring a positive patient experience. It also gives clarity for trainees on what they should expect from a supervisor. I find the role rewarding, it’s great to watch a trainee come in, nervous, and by the end of the year, they are a really good optometrist.”

If you are not currently a supervisor but are interested in becoming one, please visit their website.

GOC registration renewal open for 2017/18.

January 2017

Optometrists, dispensing opticians and optical businesses can renew their annual General Optical Council (GOC) registration now for the year beginning 1 April 2017. The process is quick and straight forward and can be done online by logging on to your MyGOC account at www.optical.org.

GOC encourages a prompt payment, registrants should apply online by Wednesday 15 March 2017 in order to pay the renewal fee of £330. If registrants apply after this date but before the final deadline of Friday 31 March they will have to pay an additional £20.

Renewing registration is a legal requirement for anyone carrying out restricted functions such as testing sight, or using a protected title such as optician. If registrants do not complete the renewal process by Friday 31 March 2017 they will be removed from the register, be unable to practise in the UK and will also be removed from the NHS National Performers List, if applicable.

Following a review the GOC decided to no longer issue registration cards as they're only valid on the day they are issued and cannot be relied on as proof of current registration. Registrants, their employers and members of the public can check an optician’s registration status on the GOC’s online register which has the most up to date information.

Registrants will also receive notification of renewal by email this year instead of by post and will receive confirmation of renewal via email as well.

Practitioners with a total gross income of less than £12,000 per year are eligible for the GOC’s low income fee of £230. If paying by direct debit they should apply for the reduced fee by 1 February 2017, otherwise the full fee will be taken and they will then have to apply for a refund. They can do this by completing the application form that is available on the GOC website before completing their renewal application online.

Gareth Hadley reappointed as Chair of the GOC Council.

January 2017

Gareth Hadley has been reappointed as Chair of the General Optical Council (GOC). His second four year term will begin on 18 February 2017 and will run for the next four years until 17 February 2021.

Building on four successful years in the role, Gareth will bring to his second term as Chair, his thirty years’ experience as a senior leader and the strong relationships he has forged with GOC stakeholders.

Gareth welcomed his reappointment, saying: “Over the last four years it has been a great pleasure to work with my fellow Council members, committee members and the staff of the GOC, and I am delighted to be continuing on in my role as Chair.

“There is a great deal of work to be done over the next four years, especially regarding the learning and development of optical professionals. The sector is going through a process of significant transformation; technological change and the growing demand for eye care are altering the roles that optometrists and dispensing opticians have traditionally played.

“My second term as Chair will therefore see a prioritisation of our Education Strategic Review. This project is essential to ensure that we equip optical professionals with the skills and knowledge needed to undertake roles of the future and to meet the health and care needs of the UK population.

“I will seek to lead the Council in close collaboration with all our stakeholders to ensure that we are responsive to the changing environment and that regulation helps rather than hinders developments in eye care that would benefit patients and the wider public; including by working with Government to ensure that the legislative framework is appropriate.”

“I am looking forward to continuing to work with the Council’s stakeholders, staff and members to make sure that protecting and promoting the health and safety of the public remains at the heart of all that we do.”

Gareth’s appointment was confirmed by the Privy Council after the Professional Standards Authority (PSA) confirmed that the GOC’s reappointment process was appropriate

GOC announces new appointments to its statutory advisory committees.

January 2017

The General Optical Council (GOC) has today appointed 14 new members to its four statutory advisory committees.The committee members will provide expert advice on key areas of the GOC’s work, ensuring that it accounts for the realities of a diverse range of optical practice.

After an extensive recruitment process which began in July 2016, the GOC has successfully recruited a combination of optometrists and dispensing opticians to its four statutory committees.

Speaking about the appointments GOC Chair, Gareth Hadley, said “Our committees have a huge responsibility for advising Council on issues that affect both registrants and the public. Their input will be crucial for key projects such as our Education Strategic Review, the future of business regulation, including new business standards, and considering legislative reform.”

“I look forward to working with all new committee members and drawing on their wealth of experience and expertise, to ensure that Council’s decisions continue to be informed by well-reasoned and up-to-date advice.”

Registration Committee

The GOC has appointed Louise Gow, Catherine Viner, Peter Black and Tony Harvey to its Registration Committee.

Louise Gow is an optometrist and was previously a Council member for the AOP between 2013 and 2015. She is currently the clinical lead optometrist at the Low Vision Centre for Action for Blind People (RNIB group).

Catherine Viner is an optometrist and has a diverse optometric background, with experience in the multiple, independent and academic sectors. She is also an assessor and examiner for the College of Optometrists and was a member of the GOC’s Hearings Panel from 2005-2015.

Peter Black is a dispensing optician. He is an advisor to the ABDO board and represents ABDO on a number of committees including the Optical Confederation Joint Education Committee and the Joint Optical Committee to the European Union.

Tony Harvey is a dispensing optician. He has worked as London Area Manager, then Head of Store Development for Boots Opticians; later moving on to the role of Head of Projects for Boots Properties. He is currently a Regional Manager for Boots Opticians.

Education Committee

The GOC has appointed Andrew Logan, Christine Dickinson, Mary Wright, Neil Retaillic and Kirsteen Newman to its Education Committee.

Andrew Logan is an optometrist and an optometry lecturer at the University of Bradford. At a postgraduate level, Andrew provides lectures for higher qualification programmes, particularly in glaucoma and independent prescribing.

Christine Dickinson is an optometrist and Honorary Optometrist Consultant at Manchester Royal Eye Hospital. She was elected to a Life Fellowship of the College of Optometrists in 2010.

Mary Wright is an optometrist and has been working at Ipswich Hospital for the past two years, leading the optometry department. She is also a member of Suffolk Local Optometric Committee.  

Neil Retaillic is an optometrist and a visiting lecturer at Aston University. He is currently a committee member for various organisations including The College of Optometrists, The Optical Confederation and Manchester Local Optometric Committee.

Kirsteen Newman is a dispensing optician and a probationary ABDO Examiner. She joined the specialist Professional Training Department at Specsavers in 2013 after fulfilling the role of Regional Development Manager, specialising in opening new practices across the country.

Standards Committee

The GOC has appointed Joy Myint, Nigel Best, Marcus Weaver and Deirdre McAree to its Standards Committee.

Joy Myint is an optometrist and is currently the Programme Lead for Optometry at the University of Hertfordshire. She is also a Council member and Vice-Chair of the Research Committee for the College of Optometrists.

Nigel Best is an optometrist and was awarded a Fellowship of the British Contact Lens Association in 2009. He currently works with Specsavers Professional Services team, providing assistance to registrants subject to FTP investigation.

Marcus Weaver is a dispensing optician as well as a qualified solicitor. He specialised in employment law for more than a decade but currently practices as Laboratory Manager and dispensing optician at Specsavers Hessle.

Deirdre McAree is a dispensing optician and an Executive Council Member of Optometry Northern Ireland. She has 30 years’ experience in optics and has assisted in the training of numerous pre-reg optometrists and in the training of optical assistants.

Companies Committee

Deirdre McAree has been appointed to the Companies Committee in addition to the Standards Committee.

All appointees took up office on 1 January 2017.

GOC suspends Norfolk optometrist.

January 2017

The General Optical Council (GOC), the UK regulator for optometrists and dispensing opticians, has suspended Alexander Pennington, an optometrist based in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, from its register for a period of three months.

A GOC Fitness to Practise Committee found his fitness to practise impaired by reason of convictions for a public order offence and for offences contrary to the Environmental Protection Act 1990. In addition, the Committee found Mr. Pennington’s fitness to practise to be impaired by reason of misconduct in respect of his dishonest non-disclosure of the convictions at renewal of his GOC registration in 2014 and 2015.

The Committee, chaired by Rachel O’Connell, said:

“The Committee acknowledged that the convictions had no relation to the Registrant’s clinical practice, however it considered that convictions of this nature did damage public confidence in the profession.

“Taking account of the Registrant’s evidence as a whole, the Committee considered the risk of future dishonesty to be low. However, the Committee was satisfied that these instances of dishonest conduct required a finding of impairment to be made so as to maintain confidence in the profession and to declare and uphold proper standards of conduct and behaviour.

“In considering the appropriate sanction the Committee took into account that the convictions and subsequent dishonesty were out of character, that there has been no repetition or previous conduct of a similar nature and that the Registrant has developed significant insight. He appreciates the damage that this type of conduct causes to the profession”

Mr. Pennington will begin his three month suspension period on 2 February 2017 if an appeal is not lodged before this date.

 

 
 
 
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