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News from General Optical Council 10 July 2019
Practice complaints Reminder of Deadline, even when there are none.
AAO announces Barr awards
GOC shares Fitness to Practise insights with optical business registrants
Archived News from the last quarter on Professional Matters April to June 2019

News from General Optical Council 10 July 2019

July 2019

Education Strategic Review update

Council reviewed the recommendations developed in response to the Education Strategic Review (ESR) consultation on draft Education Standards for providers and Learning Outcomes for students, and decided upon the next steps.

Following the steers provided by Council in May on the key issues raised by the consultation, the GOC organised workshops with a wide range of stakeholders to further explore the issues and gain insight into stakeholders’ views.

The stakeholder workshops provided extremely valuable feedback and were instrumental in the development of the recommendations that were presented to Council. Council considered and decided to approve these recommendations, which were:

• To implement the ‘one accountable provider’ approach;

• To create a standardised assessment framework;

• To develop learning outcomes and education standards that increase the clinical content of courses and the emphasis on professionalism and clinical leadership; and

• To support mentoring schemes for newly qualified professionals and to take forward work to support such schemes alongside an exploration of other options for support through our already established Transition to Practice project under the CET Review Programme.

The GOC Director of Education Dr Subo Shanmuganathan said, “I would like to thank all of the stakeholders that attended our recent workshops for their commitment and constructive engagement. Our overarching goal is to develop a system of optical education that prepares practitioners for the roles of the future and ensures they can meet the changing needs of patients while maintaining public safety.

“We acknowledge the feedback we’ve received and accept that we need to do further work to shape the learning outcomes to ensure they are fit for the future. We intend to do this through two expert advisory groups, one for Optometrists and one for Dispensing Opticians. We also understand the importance of developing an implementation plan that is realistic for all of our stakeholders. We have undertaken wide ranging stakeholder engagement throughout this review, and will continue to do so as we develop the final standards and outcomes and the timeframes for implementation.”

The GOC will publish the final ESR Education Standards and Learning Outcomes consultation response report shortly and will set out a short term, medium term and long term implementation plan for each recommendation at November Council.

Love Your Lenses campaign update

Council welcomed the presentation from Claremont Communications reporting on this year’s Love Your Lenses campaign, which focused on promoting materials to support practitioners to ‘land the message’ when providing contact lens patients with aftercare advice and so raising standards of care.

Council members also considered a report evaluating the impact of the Love Your Lenses campaign and expressed their appreciation for the positive support for the campaign provided by a wide range of stakeholders, including patient representatives, optical businesses, professional bodies and manufacturers.

Council recognised the campaign’s valuable contribution to patient safety and having established and orchestrated the campaign over the last three years, decided that it was now an appropriate time to hand over the GOC’s Love Your Lenses campaign to a sector body to allow the GOC to invest in new areas of work more closely linked to its core regulatory functions. The GOC will be discussing the next steps with stakeholders and will make a further announcement on the future of the campaign in due course.

Education: Approval and Quality Assurance

Council granted provisional approval for the following programmes:

• A new programme providing two registrable qualifications in optometry and in ophthalmic dispensing at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan); and
• A new therapeutic prescribing programme at the University of Hertfordshire.

Council granted provisional approval to the University of Huddersfield’s new optometry programme, subject to the Registrar being content with additional mitigating actions, which may include writing to the Vice Chancellor.

Provisional approval means that the provider has been approved by the GOC to run a programme which is considered as all or part of a route to registration. Students recruited to the programme are not guaranteed entry to the GOC register and may be required to undertake additional assessment through an alternative approved provider in the event that any aspect of the programme when delivered does not satisfy our requirements.

Council granted full approval to the University of Hertfordshire’s Master of Optometry programme.

Public perceptions research

Council discussed the findings from this year’s public perceptions research, which tracks the public’s view of eye care services across all four nations. The research report will be published later this month.

Practice complaints Reminder of Deadline, even when there are none.

June 2019

Deadline for reports on NHS practice complaints in England - 19 July

Contractors in England have until 19 July to submit their reports on complaints received about General Ophthalmic Services (GOS) in their practices between 1 April 2018 and 31 March 2019.

This report form has to be submitted to the NHS Business Services Authority (NHS BSA), which manages this function on behalf of NHS England, by close on 19 July.

As advised earlier contractors are required to report on three areas

• the number of complaints received, the number of justified (‘well founded’) complaints and any referred to the ombudsman
• the general nature of the complaints
• action taken to improve services as a result.

Completing the form is a contractual requirement and should include zero returns. If you do not know how many complaints you received, you can submit ‘unknown’.
Click here:

AAO announces Barr awards

June 2019

American Academy of Optometry foundation announces the 2019 Joe and Janet Barr early career cornea and contact lens research award recipients

The American Academy of Optometry Foundation is pleased to announce the recipients of the Joe and Janet Barr Early Career Cornea and Contact Lens Research Award. In conjunction with the joint meeting of the American Academy of Optometry and the World Council of Optometry, two awards will be given this year to include students abroad. This year’s awardees are Pabita Dhungel and Rabia Mobeen.

Pabita Dhungel
Pabita Dhungel is an MS/PhD Candidate at Pacific University College of Optometry. Her project is on the Impact of Scleral Lens Wear on Intraocular Pressure and Posterior Ocular Perfusion. Patrick J. Caroline, FAAO, Associate Professor at Pacific University said “Pabita embodies that extremely rare mix of scientific researcher and skilled clinician. I look forward to her future contributions to our profession.”

Rabia Mobeen is a PhD Scholar at the University of New South Wales School of Optometry and Vision Science.
Her project is on the Corneal Immune Response in Children, Adolescents, and Adult Contact Lens Wearers. Professor and Head of School, Lisa Keay, PhD, MPH, BOptom, at University of New South Wales School of Optometry and Vision Science said “Rabia is a talented emerging scientist with a very bright future.”

The award is intended to provide a MS, PhD, vision science, or physiological optics student attending a school or college of optometry seed funding for a research project in cornea/ocular surface or contact lenses.

Of the six applicants who applied for the award, both Pabita and Rabia presented an impressive resume of experience in clinical research, volunteer service, and lecture presentation. They will both receive a $2,000 award and a $750 travel fellowship to attend Academy 2019 Orlando and 3rd World Congress of Optometry, October 23 - 27, 2019.

GOC shares Fitness to Practise insights with optical business registrants

July 2019

On Friday the General Optical Council (GOC) held a roundtable event for optical business registrants at their London office.

The event was attended by representatives from a wide range of companies.

Dionne Spence, GOC Director of Casework and Resolution said, “We hope that by sharing insight about the complaints we receive, and our Fitness to Practise (FTP) processes and outcomes, we can help both optical businesses and practitioners to minimise the likelihood of complaints being raised with us.

“Optical businesses play a vital role in providing eye care services to the public and provide the working environment for thousands of our registrants. Going forward, we hope to create more opportunities to share information with our business registrants, from the large multiples to smaller independents.

“I found the event very helpful in giving me greater insight into how businesses operate. Getting feedback directly from business registrants was invaluable and will help inform our prevention agenda. I would like to thank everyone who attended for their commitment and constructive engagement.”

Meena Ralhan, Vision Express, Optical Compliance Officer said, “We really welcome the direct engagement from the GOC, it was an insightful day working through scenarios to see actually how the GOC reach decisions and surprisingly how only a small handful of company complaints go through to a full FTP hearing.

“The new business standards are welcomed, easy to understand and effectively what we already do. We look forward to supporting the GOC in implementing them further within our businesses. This honest and open approach with businesses’ involvement is a very positive way forward. May it continue.”

During the forum, business registrants were presented with a range of real-life case studies to develop their understanding of the FTP process.

The GOC also shared data showing that the most common complaints received about business registrants over the last three years related to:

1. Optical businesses not having correct procedures in place or not applying their established procedures appropriately
2. Poor complaint handling
3. Directors of optical businesses failing to declare cautions / convictions

Limited companies operating as optical businesses which use protected titles such as optometrist or optician, must register with the GOC by law. However, the GOC urge all eligible optical businesses for which business registration is not mandatory to register their business to enhance trust from patients. Independent research has shown that patients would rather ‘use an optical business that meets a certain set of standards, than one that does not’*.

To find out more about business registration visit:

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