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Opchat Magazine Professional Matters PagesProfessional Matters News, July to September 2018


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GOC welcomes Professional Standards Authority performance review.
Safeguarding Vulnerable People - Lampard Recommendations and how to adopt local protocols
Scotland forges ahead with GOS Changes.
GOC warns "Thousands of CET points still ‘pending’"
GOC appoints Lesley Longstone CB as Interim Chief Executive and Registrar
2018 American Academy of Optometry Student Travel Fellowship Recipients
News from General Optical Council.
American Academy of Optometry Holds Successful First “The Research Academy” Program for Vision Researchers.
2 studies report the opportunities that appear to lay ahead for earlier diagnosis of dementia using OCT technology.
Guidance on Overseas Visitor Charging Regulations and eye care services.
The OC guidance on data protection and GDPR, originally issued in December 2017, now been updated.
FODO wholeheartedly agrees with reports conclusions: "NHS England outsourcing to Capita a shambles"
Guidance on record keeping
GOC erases Slough based optometrist.
GOC launches consultation on the future of Continuing Education and Training
GOC to run focus groups on draft Standards for optical businesses.
GOC News from your Council July 2018
GOC appoints new Hearings Panel members.
The last 3 months news

GOC welcomes Professional Standards Authority performance review.

September 2018

The General Optical Council (GOC) has today welcomed the Professional Standards Authority’s (The Authority) 2016-17 performance review report.

The GOC has met 22 of The Authority’s 24 Standards of Good Regulation, the same number as in the previous year.

The Authority’s report notes improvements that the GOC has made to its information governance processes, meaning the GOC has passed that standard when it did not do so in 2015-16. The GOC again met all the relevant standards of good regulation for its Standards, Education and Registration work.

Lesley Longstone, Interim Chief Executive and Registrar, said: “We welcome The Authority’s report and its recognition of the work we are doing to protect the public. We have worked hard to improve our information governance processes over the last few years and are pleased to see this recognised in us meeting the relevant standard.”

The standards the GOC did not meet relate to how it previously recorded fitness to practise triage decisions, and to the total time taken to process fitness to practise complaints. The review covered the period 1 October 2016 – 30 September 2017.

Lesley Longstone added, “In respect of the recording of triage decisions, we accept that this could have been clearer during the period of the review. We are confident that improvements we have already made will have addressed the Authority’s concerns in this area.

“Speeding the FTP process up overall remains a longer term challenge for us but is nonetheless one we are determined to succeed in. The recent introduction of consensual panel disposal and our forthcoming acceptance criteria will help in this area, as will the recruitment of additional staff.”

GOC Chair Gareth Hadley added, “Lesley has set out the work we’re doing internally to address the challenge of FTP timeliness but I also reiterate our call for legislative reform to help modernise the process for all healthcare professional regulators. We welcome that the Government consulted on regulatory reform last year; if there is an opportunity to legislate in this area it would greatly help us all to improve the efficiency of our FTP process in the interests of patients and registrants alike.

“Meanwhile we welcome The Authority’s ongoing work to modernise the Standards of Good Regulation and look forward to continuing to work with them to protect the public.”

The full report is available at:

Safeguarding Vulnerable People - Lampard Recommendations and how to adopt local protocols

September 2018

The Lampard Report (2015) commissioned from former barrister Kate Lampard, sets out themes and lessons for the NHS learned from investigations into matters relating to Jimmy Savile. His self-promoted, flamboyant image and celebrity status enabled him to have unchallenged access to NHS hospitals and patients.

Lampard’s recommendations about vetting and tighter security apply to NHS Trusts where volunteers have long been an essential part of the NHS hospital culture. They would be disproportionate for small businesses and inappropriate for the optical sector, where volunteers and celebrity visitors do not play an integral role.

Nevertheless, some commissioners have recently been seeking to write these requirements into NHS standard contracts for community ophthalmic services.

The Optical Confederation and LOCSU have issued the following form of words for PECs and practices to use in such circumstances

“We are advised by the Optical Confederation and LOCSU that the Lampard Recommendations do not apply to community optical practices. They were designed for much larger providers such as NHS Trusts and would be disproportionate and unreasonable for smaller providers. However, the principles are not unreasonable and to reassure you

• all visits to the practice by media, VIPs or celebrities are handled and managed by the practice’s management because of the high profile they can attract
• any requests for visits are referred to and approved by management
• one-off or very short-term approved official visitors are always accompanied throughout their visit to prevent any possibility of contact with vulnerable patients/visitor
• consent for any requested patient contact is requested in writing in advance from any patients who agree to be involved in the visit.
• VIPs, celebrities or media are not granted access to patient records or information
• staff comply with all policies throughout the visit
• any areas to be visited are cleared of paperwork and an IG review is carried out to ensure no patient or staff data security is breached.

Scotland forges ahead with GOS Changes.

September 2018

Optometry Scotland has welcome changes to the GOS Regulations in Scotland which come into effect on 1 October 2018. These include a new Enhanced Supplementary Eye Examination at a fee of £38 (which is higher than the fee for a Supplementary Eye Examination £24.50 where the patient is not dilated) and new arrangements for re-examination rather than a GOS where the optometrist or OMP deems this is clinically indicated.

FODO’s Sam Watson, Chair of Optometry Scotland, said “A major change represented by these regulations is the move away from a ‘tick box’ approach when carrying out examinations” “The updates encourage practitioners to exercise their professional judgement based on the patient’s presenting signs, symptoms and needs to determine the tests and procedures which they deem clinically necessary”

Hal Rollason, Chair of FODO Scotland said: “This shows a strong commitment from the Scottish Government to the key role optometry and optics provide in delivering eye health services. We will now “have” more professional freedom to deliver the most appropriate care for patients, and additional funding for the new Enhanced Supplementary Eye Examination is welcome in the current economic climate. FODO Scotland members continue to play a large part in developing and supporting the aims and objectives of Optometry Scotland”

GOC warns "Thousands of CET points still ‘pending’"

September 2018

The GOC is today reminding registrants to log into their MyGOC account and accept any ‘pending’ CET points. Currently, there are 55,764 CET points that have yet to be accepted.

Unaccepted points will not count towards the 2016-18 cycle and cannot be ‘saved’ for the next one. Registrants have until 31 December to meet all their CET requirements, but if they fail to do so they will be removed from the register and will no longer be able to practise in the UK.

Marcus Dye, GOC Head of Standards and CET, said: “It is important that all registrants keep on top of their CET points so they are aware of their current total and can plan appropriately to meet all their requirements by 31 December.

“The practice of accepting points also allows registrants the opportunity to write reflective statements on their learning and can allow for registrants to choose if their points count towards a specialty or general requirement.”

The GOC is also reminding registrants that the next CET cycle will be a transition year beginning 1 January 2019 before the introduction of the new CET scheme in 2020. During this transition year, registrants are still expected to earn 12 CET points, six of which will come from interactive activities.

GOC appoints Lesley Longstone CB as Interim Chief Executive and Registrar

September 2018

The General Optical Council (GOC) has today announced that Lesley Longstone will replace Adam Sampson as its Interim Chief Executive and Registrar, following Adam’s appointment to a permanent CEO role.

Lesley joins the GOC on 17 September to provide interim cover while the GOC’s permanent Chief Executive, Vicky McDermott, is on a period of absence due to personal reasons.

Lesley has worked in a variety of fields including employment, education, youth and criminal justice in both national and international contexts. She has recently completed periods as Interim Chief Executive of the Crown Prosecution Service and was previously Chief Executive of the Independent Police Complaints Commission. She has also held a number of senior roles in education, including as Director General at the Department for Education, and as Secretary and Chief Executive of the Ministry of Education in New Zealand.

Adam will be taking up a permanent CEO role leading a new charity being created to provide residential and education services to severely disabled children and adults.

Gareth Hadley, GOC Chair, said, “Lesley brings vast experience which will enable her to lead the GOC over the coming period. In particular, her expertise will help us to further our work in speeding up the complaints process while ensuring it remains scrupulously fair; and her background in education will be of huge benefit as our CET Review and Education Strategic Review ensure the optical workforce is fit for the future.

“I would also like to thank Adam for his contribution over the last three months and wish him well in his new, permanent role. In particular he has overseen the successful launch of our consultations on the future of CET and business standards, both of which have received hundreds of responses already. I wish him all the best in his new role, an extremely valuable venture supporting some of the most vulnerable members of our society.”

Lesley Longstone said, “It is clear that the optical sector is going through tremendous change right now and that this is a fascinating time to lead the GOC. It is crucial that the GOC modernises its education, CET and business standards to keep protecting the public in a world of new technology and increasing demands on eyecare services. I look forward to contributing to this vital change over the coming months and to working with the many talented and committed people I’ve met in my visits over the past couple of weeks.”

2018 American Academy of Optometry Student Travel Fellowship Recipients

September 2018

The American Academy of Optometry is pleased to congratulate the recipients of the 2018 Student Travel Fellowship Awards.

These travel fellowships will allow students to attend Academy 2018 San Antonio, November 7-10, 2018. Resident Travel Fellowship recipients will be announced at a later time.

Frank W. Weymouth Student Travel Fellowship
Deborah Antwi, Indiana University
Jakaria Mostafa, University of Houston

Irvin M. Borish Student Travel Fellowship
Ananya Datta, OD, University of Houston
Cameron Postnikoff, University of Alabama Birmingham

Brazelton Low Vision Student Travel Fellowship
Amber Weimer, Pacific University

Edward I. Goodlaw Student Travel Fellowship
Ashley Nguyen, University of Houston

Robert D. Newcomb Student Travel Fellowship Award for Leadership
Neil Doppler, University of Alabama Birmingham

Michael G. Harris Student Travel Fellowship Award for Leadership
Annabelle Storch, Marshall B. Ketchum University

American Academy of Optometry Student Travel Fellowships
Khob Bhandari, BOptom, University of Houston
Ashutosh Jnawali, University of Houston
Parthasarathi Kalaiselvan, University of New South Wales
Sydney Si Ying Lin, State University of New York
Raman Sah, BOptom, Indiana University

Funded by an educational grant from Johnson and Johnson Vision

Michelle Antonucci, University of California Berkeley
Memoona Arshad, University of New South Wales
Marielle Blumenthaler, The Ohio State University
Paul Brown, University of Alabama Birmingham
Kelly Cochran, University of Missouri St. Louis
Nevin El-Nimri, OD, MS, FAAO, University of California Berkeley
Lacey Haines, OD, FIACLE, University of Waterloo
Kam Ho, University of New South Wales
Deepayan Kar, BOptom, MS, University of Alabama Birmingham
Safal Khanal, OD, FAAO, University of Auckland
Corrin Lesjak, Indiana University
Lydia Pickrell, The Ohio State University
Maureen Plaumann, OD, FAAO, The Ohio State University
Sudan Puri, OD, University of Houston
Noor Haziq Saliman, BOptom, MHSc, University of Manchester
Sidra Sarwat, University of New South Wales
Keyur Savla, BOptom, University of Alabama Birmingham
Alaina Short, Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences
Sloane Weed, The Ohio State University
Angela Zhang, University of Waterloo

Recipients will be honored at the Student and Resident Awards Lunch on Thursday, November 8 from Noon to 1:00 PM in Stars at Night Ballroom B4 in the Henry B. González Convention Centre.

News from General Optical Council.

September 2018

Education Strategic Review

The GOC hopes to give education providers more flexibility in delivering their courses to ensure students are equipped for future roles, after its Council approved a public consultation on new proposed standards for education providers and learning outcomes for optical students as part of its Education Strategic Review (ESR).

Alistair Bridge, GOC Director of Strategy, said, “The draft standards are focused on outcomes to allow greater flexibility for education providers and encourage innovation. They will need to be accompanied by a robust approach to accreditation and quality assurance but we hope this new flexibility will make it much easier for providers to prepare students to meet the demands of patients in the future.”

The draft standards are designed to cover the full route to registration for students, both in teaching and in clinical practice. Applying the standards will involve education providers working in partnership with other bodies, such as professional associations and employers, to provide improved clinical experience.

The proposed standards and learning outcomes reflect and build upon the feedback obtained so far through both the GOC’s ESR and its Continuing Education and Training (CET) Review.

The new proposed standards will focus on the following five areas:

Patient safety and professionalism

Safe and accessible learning

Access to clinical experience

Developing and delivering curricula, and;

Governance, leadership and management.

There are different draft learning outcomes for optometrists, dispensing opticians and contact lens opticians. For the new learning outcomes for independent prescribers, the GOC proposes to adopt the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s Competency Framework for all Prescribers.

The GOC also proposes to have one set of learning outcomes for qualified practitioners, which will allow registrants to choose CET that helps them maintain their core skills but also engage in continuing professional development.

Alistair Bridge, GOC Director of Strategy, said: “We want to ensure optical students are better prepared for their roles professionally as the optical professions change fast in the face of new technology, pressures on eyecare changes and an ageing population.

“The draft standards and learning outcomes reflect the principles that we have consulted on previously and which received broad support from stakeholders. We’ve had encouraging support so far but it’s important that we get stakeholders’ views, including on the practical issues that will be involved in moving to the new system - we look forward to hearing people’s views on these proposals.”

The GOC is planning to consult on the draft standards and learning outcomes from October 2018 to December 2018, with final versions brought to Council in February 2019 for approval.

Other news

GOC Chair Gareth Hadley announced that the GOC’s Interim Chief Executive and Registrar Adam Sampson is leaving the GOC to take up a permanent CEO role leading a new charity being created to provide residential and education services to severely disabled children and adults.

A new GOC Interim Chief Executive & Registrar will start next week; the GOC will announce their name in the coming days once formalities have been completed.

American Academy of Optometry Holds Successful First “The Research Academy” Program for Vision Researchers.

August 2018

The American Academy of Optometry held its inaugural program, The Research Academy, in Columbus, Ohio on July 17-19, 2018 with 60 vision researchers, graduate students, optometric leaders and health agency officials in attendance. The Research Academy was designed to help optometry faculty attendees develop ideas that will result in extramural funding for both basic and patient-oriented research in optometry and vision science. The program exemplifies the Academy’s commitment to supporting vision research and aligns with the Academy’s vision, “Today’s Research, Tomorrow’s Practice®.”

“We are pleased with the outcome of our first staging of The Research Academy. The program facilitated collaboration among attendees, and their ideas and research approaches were critically evaluated by experienced researchers with a history of extramural funding and by National Eye Institute staff,” explains Karla Zadnik, OD, PhD, FAAO, Chair of the Academy’s Research Committee and Dean at The Ohio State University College of Optometry.”

The program included a video presentation by Dr. Israel Goldberg of Health Research Associates and featured a mock National Institutes of Health-style study section with experienced reviewers so that attendees could experience how submitted grants are evaluated. Components of a viable research idea, an overview of the National Eye Institute and its funding mechanisms, and federal changes to the regulations that govern biomedical research were also emphasized.

"The Research Academy was successful and inspiring. It provided an open forum to think creatively about good and innovative research ideas, interact and constructively debate those ideas, and then formalize those inputs into a tangible research project. In fact, our group has already started formalizing experimental designs to collect pilot data. From there, we will focus on writing abstracts with the aim to submit them at ARVO 2019 and AAO 2019," said Shirin Hassan, BAppSc(Optom), PhD, FAAO, Associate Professor at Indiana University School of Optometry.

In addition to the Research Academy, the American Academy of Optometry and American Academy of Optometry Foundation support research through other programs that provide funding for researchers. Programs include the Career Development Award to support researchers early in their career, the Clinical Research Award to support clinical research groups, and the William C. Ezell Fellowship program designed to encourage individuals to pursue full-time careers in optometric research.

2 studies report the opportunities that appear to lay ahead for earlier diagnosis of dementia using OCT technology.  

August 2018

It has been reported that the drugs being trialled to retard the onset of dementia have not been the success that had been hoped for and much of their reported weaknesses are suspected as because too much brain damage has occurred before the onset of symptoms. Being able to recognise dementia when symptomless would therefore prove to be a possible game changer.

And it might be optometrists who will be able to provide the necessary information.

The first small but encouraging study was reported by the JAMA Network the full text can be read here,

It asserts that the clarity of ocular optics and the availability of effective ophthalmic imaging technologies makes learning about brain disorders by viewing the retina very attractive. This is particularly true for Alzheimer disease (AD), for which many clinical trials have failed to reach end points, and it is agreed that understanding and treating at earlier stages of the disease is the road forward.

Imaging of tissue-level changes that occur before clinically detectable cognitive impairment is a long-sought goal. In this issue of JAMA Ophthalmology, O’Bryhim and colleagues used optical coherence tomography angiography (OCT-A) to view AD retina and thus addressed a topic that is timely and important in its potential to reduce the projected societal burden of this neurologic disorder.

At UCL a study has concluded that another breakthrough study carried out there, suggests regular eye tests could help identify those likely to get dementia at a much earlier stage, which means suitable treatments could be prescribed at a more effective time to slow or stop the onset of dementia at early stages of the disease. (report
In the largest longitudinal study of its kind, researchers at the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology and Moorfields Eye Hospital, assessed UK Biobank data, from 32,000 anonymised individuals, aged between 40 and 69.

The selected participants had undergone optical coherence tomography (OCT), which precisely measures retinal anatomy, in particular, the retinal nerve fibre layer (RNFL), at baseline - between the years 2006-2010. At the same time, participants had also undergone a series of basic cognitive tests which assessed memory, reaction time and reasoning. The OCT and cognitive tests were then repeated in a subset of participants approximately three years after baseline in 2013.

In assessing the data, researchers found a significant association between RNFL thickness and cognitive function at baseline. People in the lowest two quintiles of RNFL thickness were around double the risk of having mild cognitive problems, when examined. Furthermore those people with thinner RNFL were twice as likely to suffer cognitive decline over the next three years. These findings were recently published in the peer reviewed JAMA neurology.

Co-lead author, Professor Paul Foster (UCL Institute of Ophthalmology) said this is the first study to identify a thin RNFL indicates a risk of future cognitive decline.

“It is well known there are significant degenerative changes in the retina and optic nerves in established dementia,” he said.“In carrying out this study our primary motivation was to determine if the RNFL and cognition relationship held true in the very earliest stages of cognitive decline.

“Our findings undoubtedly suggest that the retinal abnormalities, identifiable in established dementia, begin to manifest in the early stages of cognitive decline.”

Between 2002 and 2012, 99% of clinical trials into treatments for Alzheimer’s disease failed.“It is likely that treatments will be more effective in slowing or stopping further at onset of dementia at earlier stages of the disease,” Prof Foster added.

“Also, by targeting people in the earlier stages, it should be possible to design better clinical trials for treatments that make a real difference and improve people’s lives.

“We believe optical coherence tomography measures of the retina will help identify those at highest risk of very early cognitive changes. This will, in turn, help to develop better clinical trials, and pull through new treatments more rapidly to patients.”

Guidance on Overseas Visitor Charging Regulations and eye care services.

August 2018

Following amendments to the National Health Service (Charges to Overseas Visitors) Regulations 2015 there has been some confusion as to whether or not overseas visitors are entitled to NHS funded eye care services.

The purpose of this guidance is to clarify that:  Overseas visitors should not be charged for GOS services  There is no nationality or residency requirement for someone to be eligible for GOS


The National Health Service (Charges to Overseas Visitors) Regulations 2015 were amended in 2017 to extend charging for overseas visitors. Since 23 October 2017 any organisation providing NHS funded services is required to make and recover charges to overseas visitors for services they have received unless they are primary care services (as set out in the NHS Act 2006) or an exemption applies. On 1 August 2018 NHS England issued a suite of updated guidance to NHS providers about how to implement these charges.

NHS funded eye care services

GOS services are primary care services and therefore do not fall within the scope of the charging regulations.

In addition, the eligibility criteria for NHS sight testing service, set out in the Primary Ophthalmic Services Regulations 2008, include no nationality or residence requirements. Therefore if someone asks for an NHS funded sight test and they meet any of the criteria (e.g. they are under 16 years of age), then they are eligible for NHS funded GOS services regardless of their nationality.

As always, you can only provide MECS to people who are registered with a GP in the relevant CCG area. If a patient who is eligible for MECs via GP registration is an overseas visitor, you should not charge them.

For further advice contact your representative body:


The OC guidance on data protection and GDPR, originally issued in December 2017, now been updated.

August 2018

The guidance has been revised and updated to take account of changes to the GDPR arising from the new Data Protection Act 2018 (DPA2018), and updated guidance from the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) and the NHS.

In particular, our updated guidance explains that the DPA2018 brings providers of GOS within the definition of a public authority. This means they must appoint a Data Protection Officer (DPO).

However it is also clear that the ICO intends to take a pragmatic approach to the DPO rules in the case of small optical practices. So the owner or manager of a small practice will be able to take on the DPO role themselves where necessary, as long as the reasons for this are documented.

FODO wholeheartedly agrees with reports conclusions: "NHS England outsourcing to Capita a shambles"

August 2018

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) published a damning report on Wednesday about NHS England’s outsourcing of primary care support services to Capita.

The PAC inquiry followed a critical report by the National Audit Office (NAO) in May. The Optical Confederation gave evidence, which is is cited in the conclusions of the report.

The PAC found that NHS England had paid only lip service to engaging with opticians and other primary care providers. They describe NHS England’s exposing primary care practitioners to risk, in order to make savings, as “deplorable”.

The report criticised the “short-sighted rush” to achieve savings “heedless of the impact on patients and practitioners” when neither NHS England nor Capita properly understood the service.

It recommends that NHS England and Capita write back to the PAC in January 2019 setting out what they have done to compensate primary care practitioners for the disruption to the service, and whether changes to their partnership working had improved their relationship and outstanding differences.

NHS England has also been asked to report back to the PAC on how it will improve future contracting and how it will involve stakeholders at an earlier stage when it is introducing changes to services.

FODO Director of Policy and Strategy Ann Blackmore, said: “These findings reflect the truly appalling experience of optical practices and practitioners. Along with colleagues in the Optical Confederation we have raised concerns time and again. We have also sought to work with Capita and NHS England to address these problems. We are hopeful that the systems now in place will ensure an effective service – but will be monitoring the situation carefully.”

You can read the PAC conclusions and recommendations here if you can cope with the whole sorry tale!

Guidance on record keeping

July 2018

Statement by the Optical Confederation and the College of Optometrists

The Optical Confederation has received a number of enquiries about guidance issued by some NHS regions and LOCs regarding record keeping. While we understand and share the desire to improve standards, this is not, in our opinion, the way to achieve improvement. Any local guidance should simply direct people towards the comprehensive guidance that is already issued by the College of

Optometrists alongside guidance issued by ABDO, AOP and FODO.

Local variations and additions to existing, national guidance can lead to confusion over the required standards, and potentially to errors. A particular concern is that local guidance may be misrepresented as the peer standard, which could have implications for any issues referred to the GOC or civil proceedings.

The Optical Confederation and the College of Optometrists agree that local record keeping advice that goes beyond directing people to the existing guidance issued by national bodies should be avoided.

The published statement found on the Optical Confederation website can be found here.

GOC erases Slough based optometrist.

July 2018

The General Optical Council (GOC), the UK regulator for optometrists and dispensing opticians, has decided to erase Sufyan Malik, an optometrist based in Slough, from its register. He will now be unable to practise as an optometrist in the UK.

A GOC Fitness to Practise Committee found his fitness to practise impaired by reason of misconduct, related to inappropriate and sexually motivated behaviour towards two patients, together with a failure to provide a signed and written prescription after a sight test in relation to one patient.

In making the decision, the Committee, chaired by Dr Pamela Ormerod, said:

“The Committee determined that the Registrant’s actions amounted to a breach of one of the fundamental tenets of the profession, in not making the care of his patient his first concern.

“The Committee determined that in acting as he did, the Registrant has brought the profession into disrepute, there was an indication of limited insight only on his part in this regard and accordingly there was no reassurance that he would be unlikely to do so again in the future.

“The Committee was satisfied that in the particular circumstance of this case, the public interest outweighed that of the Registrant because of the nature and seriousness of the misconduct and the degree of risk posed to the public by the Registrant. It therefore determined that erasure was the necessary, proportionate and appropriate sanction.”

Mr Malik has until 16 August 2018 to appeal his erasure, during which time he is suspended from the register under an immediate suspension order.

GOC launches consultation on the future of Continuing Education and Training

July 2018

The General Optical Council (GOC) has launched a consultation to understand how to develop the current system of Continuing Education and Training (CET) so it is fit for the future.

The consultation is asking optical professionals to give their views on how the GOC can help them develop new skills on a continuing basis. This may for example mean more emphasis on self-directed learning, whereby optical professionals are given more flexibility to focus on developing skills that are most relevant to their individual needs. It could also mean a greater emphasis on critical thinking skills and improving future performance by analysing previous experiences.

The consultation is in response to increasing demand for eye health services and advancements in technology that are changing the optical sector.

An ageing population and pressures on NHS services mean there is more demand for eye care services than ever before.

New technologies like artificial intelligence are changing the way diseases such as glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy will be diagnosed and monitored in future. As well as testing sight and dispensing contact lenses, GOC registrants will be increasingly required to do more clinical work.

The Fit for the Future consultation is taking place from 17 July to 11 September 2018 in order to listen to the views of key stakeholders. The findings of the consultation will be used to shape the new system that is expected to start in 2020.

To help the sector adjust, 2019 will be a transition year between the current system of CET and a newly reformed system starting in 2020. During the transition year, there is a GOC expectation that registrants will achieve 12 CET points of which six will be from interactive activities.

Alistair Bridge, GOC Director of Strategy, says: “The existing system of Continuing Education and Training has up to now been effective in safeguarding the health of the public, but as the optical sector changes it needs to evolve to support practitioners in maintaining high standards of patient care. We want to use the current system as a foundation upon which to build new elements that help the sector move with the times.”

Participation in the Fit for the Future consultation is through the GOC's new online consultation hub at

The last date to participate is 11 September.

The GOC has produced a communications toolkit for organisations working in the optical sector, which provides content and ideas to help communicate what the consultation is, why it matters and how individuals can take part. Email to be sent a copy.

GOC to run focus groups on draft Standards for optical businesses.

July 2018

The GOC is running five focus groups as part of its consultation process on the new draft ‘Standards for optical businesses’.

The focus groups, for practicing professionals and business owners, will take place across five different locations on the following dates:

• Birmingham - Thursday 2 August
• Bristol - Friday 3 August
• Edinburgh - Tuesday 7 August
• Leeds - Thursday 9 August
• London - Tuesday 14 August

The focus groups will be facilitated by Pye Tait Consulting, who are also carrying out phone interviews with optical professionals and business owners as part of the consultation process.

If you are interested in taking part in a focus group or phone interview, you can find out more about the process here. Optometrists and Dispensing Opticians in Business should consider involvement. Register your interest here

GOC News from your Council July 2018

July 2018

Acceptance criteria

Council approved new Fitness to Practise (FTP) Acceptance Criteria.

The criteria will define the circumstances where the GOC will accept a complaint as an allegation of a registrant’s impaired fitness to practise. Those that do not meet the criteria would be closed, and may be directed to another organisation, without referral to GOC Case Examiners.

The criteria will be beneficial to both the public and registrants, allowing for more efficiency and speed in handling cases that raise fitness to practise concerns, and allowing registrants to avoid the stress of being involved in an FTP case when it is not necessary.

From December 2017 to March 2018, the GOC consulted on the draft acceptance criteria which received support from the majority of stakeholders that responded. The consultation included two guidance documents, one for staff and one for the public. In response to comments from stakeholders the GOC has combined the two into one document, providing much clearer guidance which will improve transparency and avoid confusion.

The acceptance criteria is expected to be finalised by the end of July, with the criteria being formally introduced in September 2018.

OCCS Annual Report 2017-2018

The Optical Consumer Complaints Service (OCCS) gave a presentation on its annual report for the year 2017/18. Some trends from the report include: a decrease in customer service complaints from thirty-three per cent to twenty-six per cent and increase in the complexity of their caseload. The top complaint issues referred to OCCS were perceived errors with prescriptions, outcomes of laser eye surgery and dispensing.

97 per cent of enquiries were concluded with a resolution and 76 per cent of service users would use the OCCS service again.

During the 2017/18 year, OCCS achieved several of its objectives, including the implementation of a plan for improved accessibility for consumers with disabilities, sharing the insight of consumer complaints gained by OCCS with the public and optical professions, and improving consumer contact pathways to increase direct enquiries with OCCS rather than the GOC

Fitness to Practice (FTP) team.

OCCS will continue to support the GOC during 2018/19 by continuing to improve upon their 2017/18 objectives, assisting the GOC FTP team to conclude FTP complaints quickly and efficiently, and preparing its services for the introduction of the FTP acceptance criteria.

2018 Love Your Lenses Week update

Council received an update on this year’s Love Your Lenses week (24-30 March). The campaign reached almost 2 million people across print and radio and 1.7 million on social media. The campaign was created to improve patient safety by raising patient awareness of how to buy and wear contact lenses safely. This year more stakeholders got involved which the GOC expects to continue as awareness of the campaign grows.

An infographic was made at Halloween encouraging people who chose to wear contact lenses as part of their fancy dress to buy their lenses safely and legally, resulting in 165 pieces of media coverage on this topic alone.

The GOC is planning to continue Love Your Lenses week in 2019 and will be working through the rest of the year on maintaining and increasing public awareness of the campaign to ensure that contact lens wearers continue to get the right safety advice.

Other news

Council has granted full approval to the BSc (Hons) Ophthalmic Dispensing and Foundation Degree in Ophthalmic Dispensing at Bradford College (without conditions).

Council also granted full approval to the Post-graduate Certificate in Therapeutic Prescribing at Cardiff University (without conditions) and the proposed changes to reduce the duration of the programme from three months to two months.

GOC Chair Gareth Hadley paid tribute to Lisa Davis, Director of Fitness to Practise, who will be leaving the GOC after four and a half years. Lisa has secured a new role as CEO of her local Citizens Advice, which she will commence in early September. Gareth said, “Lisa has made a great contribution in her time at the GOC and we will very much miss her. However we’re very happy for her that she is moving on to a Chief Executive job.”

Interim Chief Executive Adam Sampson’s report noted the GOC will soon be consulting on the future of Continuing Education and Training (CET). The GOC can confirm that this consultation is due to launch on Tuesday 17 July.

GOC appoints new Hearings Panel members.

July 2018

The General Optical Council (GOC) has appointed four new Hearings Panel members: Caroline Corby, Amit Jinabhai, Kathryn King and Julia Wortley.

The Hearings Panel decides the outcomes of fitness to practise hearings. It is impartial and independent of Council.

GOC Director of Fitness to Practise, Lisa Davis, said “We are pleased to welcome these new members to the Committee as they each bring valuable skills and insight from their diverse experiences. Their wide expertise will be beneficial in maintaining and demonstrating good practice and fairness at hearings.”

Dr Amit Jinabhai joins the panel as an optometrist who graduated from UMIST and has a PhD from The University of Manchester (Faculty of Life Sciences). In 2012, he was awarded the British College of Optometrists' George Giles prize for outstanding postgraduate research. He currently works as a Senior Lecturer for The University of Manchester, within the Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health.

Julia Wortley joins the panel as a lay member. Julia has worked in the Met’s Professional Standards Department investigating public complaints, as a Superintendent for nine years, and as Assistant Chief Constable with Essex Police. From 2015-2017, Julia was made Deputy Chief Constable and Programme Director for the 7 Force Strategic Collaboration Programme, a complex enterprise delivering enhanced public service, efficiency and effectiveness for seven counties.

Kathryn King joins the panel as a lay member. She has experience as an ombudsman and administrative justice professional. A Disciplinary Panel Tribunal Member for the Bar Tribunals Adjudication Service and an academic researcher, she also has extensive experience of determining complex cases at three national Ombudsman schemes, including as Chief Legal Ombudsman for England and Wales.

Caroline Corby joins the panel as a lay member. She worked for thirteen years specialising in private equity. Caroline is a Non-Executive Director of the Children and Family Court Advisory Support Service (known as Cafcass), the Criminal Cases Review Commission, One Housing and JML. She also chairs interim order panels for the Nursing and Midwifery Council. Caroline will be stepping down from her role as the GOC’s Investigation Committee chair to join the Hearings Panel.

All new members take up their positions on 1 July 2018 apart from Caroline Corby, who will begin on 5 July 2018.


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