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Opchat Magazine Professional Matters PagesProfessional Matters News, July - September 2015

Greater Manchester-based student optometrist erased from GOC registers

Confederation provides Explanation on Cooling-Off Period Guidance

The Accessible Information Standard: What you need to know and what you need to do now

ABDO commissioned survey reveals parents not focussed on children’s eye care

Another step towards the deterioration of the Nations eye health

College of Optometrists maintains membership fee freeze

The NHS Confederation sets out to explode the Myths surrounding health care

Call for AOP Council nominations

College launches hospital events for newly-qualified optometrists

Government again imposes 1 per cent fee increase for GOS. OFNC has its say:

Who makes up the OFNC

GOC responds to PSA’s report, “Rethinking regulation”

AOP concerns over new GOC standards of practice

FODO makes comments of GOC standards

Council approves standards of practice

Latest OSCE results announced by the College of Optometrists

GOC research shows high level of confidence in opticians

Cardiff University is first training provider approved to offer the Higher Professional Certificate in Low Vision

College appoints new Chief Executive

AOP issues GOS guidelines to members

Greater Manchester-based student optometrist erased from GOC registers

September 2015

The General Optical Council (GOC), the UK regulator for opticians, has erased Gurinder Ranshi, a student optometrist from Sale, Greater Manchester, from its registers.

A GOC Fitness to Practise Committee found his fitness to practise impaired by virtue of a conviction for aggravated burglary.

In making its decision the Committee, chaired by Rachel O’Connell, said: “The Committee noted that this was a particularly serious offence. The Registrant and others forcibly entered the home of victims who had been targeted.

Weapons were taken to the premises and violence was used albeit not by the Registrant. Nevertheless, this was a joint enterprise.
For his part in this offence, the Registrant was sentenced to seven and a half years imprisonment.

The Committee noted that, whilst a conviction of itself does not necessarily mean that fitness to undertake training is impaired, the circumstances of this aggravated burglary are so serious as to go to the issue of the Registrant’s fitness to undertake training. Such conduct is fundamentally incompatible with continuing to be a registrant.”

Ranshi is now unable to undertake training to qualify as an optometrist in the UK.

Ranshi has 28 days to appeal his erasure, during which time he is suspended from the register under an immediate order.

Confederation provides Explanation on Cooling-Off Period Guidance

September 2015


This guidance summarises the key points of the extended cooling-off period legislation. It also outlines the processes and information requirements for both optical businesses and customers from the time of the sale to the customer exercising their right to cancel and what the provider must then to do comply with the law.
The key points are:

• the cooling-off period has been extended to 14 calendar days
• spectacles and other prescription items are exempt from the cooling-off period, however other products (including non-prescription contact lenses) are not
• the cooling-off period does not apply to products valued at less than £42
• new information requirements for optical businesses on:
• informing customers of their consumer rights, including the right to cancel
• the product’s full price including delivery and VAT
• this applies to distance (internet & telephone sales) and off-premises (e.g. domiciliary) contracts


The cooling-off period, also known as the right of withdrawal, has been extended to two weeks for distance and off-premises contracts following the introduction of new consumer rights legislation. An off-premise contract is defined as a contractual agreement between a provider and a customer which takes place in person and off the regular business premises.

This could be for example a customer’s home during a domiciliary appointment or during an event taking place at a separate venue.

Distance contracts are defined as contracts concluded over other mediums such as the internet or the telephone.

For optical businesses the most important aspect of the new rules is that spectacles and other prescription medical devices are still exempt from the cooling-off period. Prescription spectacles are considered a personalised product and are therefore exempt.

Additionally, any other medical products and devices which are available on prescription are also exempt; however, other optical products or accessories, including non-prescription contact lenses, are not.

The Accessible Information Standard: What you need to know and what you need to do now

September 2015

Implementation by September 2015 and fully completed by July 2016.


NHS England has introduced a new Accessible Information Standard as a legal requirement for all providers of NHS and adult social care services in England. This includes GOS contractors.

The purpose of the Standard is to ensure that people who have communication needs because of a learning disability or sensory impairment receive information in a suitable format of their choice.

Along with the other primary care professions, the Optical Confederation responded to the consultation on this Standard in 2014, pointing out both the difficulties and costs of implementation in primary care and calling for further discussions.

However the Standard was approved, unchanged, on 24 June 2015.

The primary care professions, including the Optical Confederation, are working together to make further representations to NHS England about the impracticability and costs of immediate implementation as proposed and to consider how costs can be minimised.


In the meantime the Standard requires providers (including GOS contractors) to have started preparing for implementation by September 2015. Full implementation of the Standard is expected of providers by July 2016 (see timeline below).

To read and think about the information contained in this guidance note constitutes preparing to implement the Standard and means contractors will not be in breach of contract.

Further advice from the Optical Confederation will be issued to support contractors, in the light of representations being made to NHS England.

New Requirements

Key requirements of the new Standard are that providers:

1) Ask: always find out if a new or returning (NHS) patient has any information or communication support needs relating to a learning disability, impairment or sensory loss;

2) Record: clearly and consistently record those needs in paper or electronic records;

3) Alert/Flag: ensure that the recorded needs are ‘highly visible’ whenever the individual’s record is accessed (e.g. highlighted in a different colour on the front sheet of paper records or as a flag/banner on each page of an electronic record);

4) Share: include information about people’s information and communication needs at referral, discharge and handover – with appropriate consent – according to your existing data sharing processes.

5) Act: make reasonable adjustments to ensure that people receive information in a format they can understand.

It has not yet been clarified how such adjustments (e.g. BSL interpreters) are to be funded

Optical Confederation Chair Chris Hunt said: “All optical practices need to read this guidance to ensure they do not fall foul of contract requirements. The intention behind the Accessible Information Standard is entirely commendable. Unfortunately none of the points about practicality and cost we or other primary care professions raised during consultation were taken into account. Together with partners across primary care we have made our objections clear and are seeking urgent discussion with NHS England to agree what is appropriate and proportionate in primary care and community optical practice.”
ED: In paperless practices and those welcoming existing new px’s there will need to be a field that registers the patients’ needs in this respect.

ABDO commissioned survey reveals parents not focussed on children’s eye care

September 2015

Today, new research commissioned by the Association of British Dispensing Opticians (ABDO) reveals that almost 6 in 10 parents in the UK are unaware that their children need to have an eye test at least every two

yeABDO Survey Infographicars.
ABDO Children's Survey


ABDO is stressing the importance of ensuring children get their eyes tested at least every two years.

Many parents in the UK don’t recognise the importance of having their child’s eyes tested from a young age, with almost 6 in 10 (59 per cent) unaware that they need to take their child for an eye test at least every two years.

The survey of 2,000 parents found that a third (33 per cent) wrongly believe that children need to get their eyes tested for the first time when they start school. Alarmingly 12 per cent said children only need to get their eyes tested if their parents wear glasses.

It also highlights that over half of British parents don’t realise that squint and lazy eye can be detected during an eye test and almost three quarters (72 per cent) aren’t aware that spectacles can potentially help straighten a squint. It also found that 75 per cent of parents don’t consider making their child wear sunglasses when it’s sunny.

With 85 per cent of parents admitting to not knowing much about getting their child’s eyes tested, ABDO is stressing the importance of ensuring children get their eyes tested by a registered practitioner.

Jo Holmes, dispensing optician and ABDO board member, says, “It’s never too soon to get your child’s eyes tested. Children can have an eye test before they learn to read, and the sooner some eye problems are picked up, the easier it is to treat them.”

ABDO is advising parents that if child has never had an eye test, or if they have concerns or simply want to know more, to search for EyecareFAQ on Facebook or call into their local opticians.

An infographic (shown left) that provides an overview of the survey findings can be viewed on the ABDO website at


Research conducted July 2015 by Vital Research and Statistics amongst a sample of 2,000 UK parents of children aged 0-11 25/06/2015-30/06/2015



"What goes around, comes around"

September 2015

Another step towards the deterioration of the Nations eye health

AIO BrochuresThe AIO responds to our story featured in our last update on the derisory GOS increase:

The news that once again the DoH are offering a paltry increase in the GOS fees and Optical vouchers is of no surprise to Independents but this time we know the reason.

The DoH said that the public had no difficulty in obtaining a sight test, more practices were opening than were closing and that private sight test fees were often below the NHS fee while spectacles could be purchased for as little as £25. They may just as well have said ‘we understand little about the long term eye health of the nation’.

So why should the tax payer pay more than a derisory sum for something that many in the optical profession are offering for ‘free’? Ultimately, the marketing ploy used by so many of the commercial optical stores was bound to have repercussions on the whole professions of Optometry and Dispensing Optics.

The Independent sector, that is concerned with long term eye health, knows that a ‘free’ or discounted ‘sight test’ is not free at all. Somewhere it has to be paid for, either in the form of a curtailed and inadequate ocular examination or by excessive conversion rates. On the one hand this is affecting the eye health of the nation, and on the other consumers (as they are referred to by the commercial multiples) are being ‘sold’ more optical appliances than they need. Of course the other way of funding ’free’ or discounted ‘sight tests’ is by generating excessive profit on the sale of optical appliances.

The AIO Council feels very strongly that for our profession to be taken seriously as a provider of valued professional eyecare, all practitioners must stop using professional services as a marketing ploy.

We, therefore, urge the Optical Confederation, FODO, AOP and ABDO to encourage all their members
• to stop misleading the public,
• to ban the ‘free’ or cheap ‘eye tests’
• to charge transparent and realistic fees for all professional services.

If this proves unachievable then legislation needs to be changed so a practitioner is unable to claim a GOS fee higher than their private fee.

ED. It will interesting to see if PHN receives a response from all those groups named in this open letter from the AIO?

AIO announce Autumn Conference where you can have your say

College of Optometrists maintains membership fee freeze and while introducing new benefits

August 2015

Members have enjoyed a range of new benefits over the last year, including a personal bound copy of the College’s new Guidance for professional practice, a guidance app, giving members access to this vital resource from their tablet or smart phone even when offline, access to an additional Clinical Adviser to answer clinical and ethical queries, and new patient resources, including leaflets on presbyopia and contact lenses, and Amsler chart tear-off pads.

This year, the College will launch a new website – increasing personalisation and access to online CPD content and resources – introduce a range of themed events such as a dedicated event for pre-reg trainees and hospital events for newly qualified optometrists, and launch a new patient leaflet on dry eye.

Catherine Bithell, Director of Member Services and Communications, said: “It’s been a busy year for the College and we’ve worked closely with, and for, members, the profession and the public. For example, we awarded over 18,000 CET points to members who attended our events, gave more than £680,000 of funding to research projects to build the profession’s evidence base, sent members in excess of one million patient leaflets, and accredited new higher qualifications.

“We want to ensure that College membership provides the best possible value for money and has a real and positive impact on the professional lives of our members, and our successes over the last year, including a 2.5% growth in membership, are proof that we are achieving this goal.

“By listening to members, we aim to provide the support our members need to develop in their careers and deliver the highest standards of practise and patient care. My aim is to ensure that each year we improve our service, providing even more new and improved benefits, while remaining competitively priced.”

College President, David Parkins FCOptom, added: “The benefits of College membership are invaluable, not just in terms of the in-practice and CPD support we provide, but also in terms of how we promote the profession and support and advance eye care provision on a national level, through evidence-based research and policy development.

“I look forward to welcoming our new and returning members over the coming months.”

The College’s new membership year starts on 1 October 2015. The full member rate for fully-qualified, practising optometrists is £298.73, with discounts for newly-qualified, part-time and overseas members.

The NHS Confederation sets out to explode the Myths surrounding health care and in its third series themes Primary Care in the NHS

August 2015

A Health Committee’s inquiry into whether the Department of Health and its arms' length bodies have the plans and policies in place now to ensure that high quality care is consistently available to patients at the point of need.

The Committee will be considering issues such as:
• The quality and standards of care for patients
• Demand and access (including out of hours access and proposals for 7 day access)
• Funding (including local and national distribution of resourcing)
• Commissioning
• Future models of care as piloted by the Five Year Forward View Vanguard
• Workforce: current and future challenges (including recruitment, retention, training, skill mix, contractual models, workload and pay).

Commenting Chris Hunt Optical Confederation Chairman said: “This is a good curtain raiser to Health Select Committee into primary care. Dentists, pharmacists, opticians and hearing specialists - we are all primary care. It is only by reinvigorating primary care and ensuring that all services are able to communicate electronically that we can deliver the NHS Five Year Forward View.
We can provide more care outside hospital and cope with growing demand: this does not need major reorganisation, just common sense.”

Call for AOP Council nominations

August 2015

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 started on 17 August and will run for three weeks, closing on 7 September at 12pm.

Henrietta Alderman, AOP Chief Executive, said: “Our Council is changing and it’s an exciting time to get involved. It doesn’t matter if you have never been involved before. If you want to represent your peers and play a part in shaping the future, consider putting yourself forward for one of the regional or designated positions. Applications are encouraged from both new members and existing Council representatives.”

As well as the 25 regional representatives for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – there will also be eight designated positions for:

• Early-career optometrists (new position)
• Franchisee/joint venture partners (new position)
• Undergraduate optometry students
• Pre-registration students
• Newly-qualified optometrists
• University lecturers
• Dispensing opticians
• Hospital optometrists
Following the Council nominations process, the voting period will start on 21 September and run for two weeks, closing on 5 October 2015.

College launches hospital events for newly-qualified optometrists

August 2015

Bookings have opened for the College of Optometrists’ first hospital events, designed exclusively for newly-qualified optometrists.

College members who qualified after July 2012 are being offered the chance to attend an event at either Manchester Royal Eye Hospital (MREH) or Moorfields Eye Hospital. Delegates will be able to gain CET points, hear from expert clinicians and tour hospital facilities - all free of charge.

Catherine Bithell, Director of Member Services and Communications for the College of Optometrists, said: “We’re delighted to introduce these two brand new events for our newly qualified members. This is a unique opportunity to visit leading eye health facilities and learn more about the opportunities and challenges of working in a hospital environment.”

Dr Cindy Tromans, Chair of the College’s Board of Trustees, and Consultant Optometrist and Head of Optometry at MREH, said: “These events will be a fantastic way for newly-qualified optometrists to gain insight into the whole patient experience, from high street practice through to treatment at hospital, and to learn from specialists. Manchester Royal Eye Hospital is thrilled to be a part of the College’s first hospital events, and to be able to offer these opportunities to the next generation of optometrists.”

Highlights of the MREH event, which will be held on 7 October 2015, include:

• a tour of the hospital, which recently made international headlines after surgeons successfully carried out the world’s first bionic eye implant

• a lecture on Ocular Emergencies by Leon Au, Consultant Glaucoma and Corneal Specialist at the hospital

• buffet and networking.

Highlights of the Moorfields Eye Hospital event, which will be held on 27 October 2015, include:

• a tour of the working clinics at the hospital, a world-class centre of excellence for ophthalmic research and education

• a lecture on A&E conditions and referrals by Scott Hau, Principal Optometrist at the hospital

• buffet and networking.

Jay Varia, Senior Optometrist, Education Lead at Moorfields Eye Hospital, said: “Hospitals provide valuable research and education opportunities, but unfortunately not all newly-qualified optometrists have had the chance to encounter them. These events are a great way to change this, and Moorfields Eye Hospital is delighted to take part and open the doors to working clinics to attendees.”

Places are limited, so members should book soon to avoid disappointment.

Government again imposes 1 per cent fee increase for GOS. OFNC has its say:

August 2015

The Government has today announced that it will impose a 1% increase in fees for services provided under the GOS contract. This offer had been rejected by the OFNC, the negotiating body for the optical sector.

Mike George, Chair of the OFNC said: “We are deeply disappointed that this fee has been imposed upon the sector, without agreement or any apparent regard to the evidence submitted. And it is even more disappointing given the significant extra funds that are being invested by the Government in other areas of primary care.

Community optical practices have a major role to play in the NHS priority of preserving older people’s sight, helping them remain independent, avoid falls and stay out of hospital, as well as safeguarding the eye health of the wider population.

It is a pity that this continues to be unrecognised in proper fees and that once again optical practices will subsidise NHS England’s goals without proper recognition.”

The announcement included details for CET grants, which have also only increased by 1%, and follows on from the poor increase in optical voucher values of 1% announced in April.
Ann Blackmore, OFNC secretary commented: “With such poor increases in the sight test fee going back for many years now, the government and NHS England must refrain from imposing any further unfunded administrative and regulatory burdens on community optical practices, many of which are struggling to keep open for their patients in these tough times.

We look forward to continuing discussions with NHS England about IT connectivity and can only hope this will be more fruitful.”

Who makes up the OFNC and how has it worked and how will it work in the future with your help.

August 2015

The Optometric Fees Negotiating Committee (OFNC) is the community eye health equivalent of the BMA’s and BDA’s General Practice Committees and community pharmacist’s pharmaceutical services negotiating committee (PSNC). It is the recognised negotiating body for fees for the professions. Its members include the ABDO, the AOP, the BMA, and FODO.

The Chair and secretariat to the OFNC are provided by AOP and FODO on a rotational basis. Mike George (AOP) has changed places with Claire Slade (FODO) as Chair of OFNC for the next two years. Ann Blackmore (of FODO) replaced Richard Carswell (AOP) as OFNC secretary, when the latter retired on 31 March 2014.

In addition, Brian Carroll has retired this year from OFNC (FODO) after many years battling for fair fees for the professions. He is replaced by Richard Edwards (FODO).

The current membership of OFNC is Mike George (Optometrist, AOP – Chair OFNC), Henrietta Alderman (AOP CEO), Richard Edwards (Optometrist, FODO), Claire Slade (Optometrist, FODO), Trevor Warburton (Optometrist AOP), Gordon Ilett (AOP), Simon Longstaff (OMP BMA), John Maingay (BMA), Professor Nagasumbramanian (OMP BMA), Sir Anthony Garrett (CEO ABDO), David Hewlett (CEO FODO). Secretary: Ann Blackmore (FODO).

Each negotiating year starts with a strategy planning day. The next will be in August 2015. OFNC is always grateful to receive comments, advice and perspectives from Optical Confederation members.

Click here to read Papers relating to the 2015-16 fees negotiations

GOC responds to PSA’s report, “Rethinking regulation”

August 2015

The General Optical Council (GOC) has today responded to the Professional Standards Authority’s (PSA) report, “Rethinking regulation”.

GOC Chief Executive and Registrar, Samantha Peters said: “The PSA’s report raises some very important issues about the future of healthcare regulation, and we encourage others to join a wider debate on this. It is essential we properly and comprehensively consider the best ways in which to approach the future of regulation, and the PSA’s report is a welcome step forward in initiating this conversation.

“We have already been pushing for legislative change in the shape of the Law Commissions’ Bill and were disappointed that this was not included in the Queen’s Speech. We are keen to see changes to the current legal framework to enable us and other regulators to enhance our role in public protection, and we welcome the opportunity to debate this further.”

AOP concerns over new GOC standards of practice

July 2015

The Association of Optometrists (AOP) has congratulated the General Optical Council (GOC) on its consultation on the new standards of practice - which were approved at the GOC Council on Wednesday 29 July - but expressed concerns about some of the decisions taken to be implemented in April 2016.

Trevor Warburton, Chairman of AOP’s Policy Committee, said: “While we were delighted to see that some of our members’ concerns have been addressed, we feel that some of the standards could be more reflective of today`s practice.”

The AOP believes that, by leaving business registrants governed by the current code of conduct while imposing stricter duties on individuals, the GOC is not solving the current inequalities of obligation between individual registrants and business registrants.

The GOC, the College of Optometrists and the AOP have all reported recently that practitioners are increasingly expressing concerns about commercial pressure, with regards to both throughput of patients and conversion rates.

The AOP feels that registered businesses should operate under the same obligations as individuals. The GOC say that they will develop new standards of practices for business registrants at a later, as yet undefined, date.

The AOP feels that some of the standards could be difficult for employees to comply with, for example around maintenance of equipment or accessibility of records. The AOP`s legal team is worried that the new standards will leave some members unable to meet some expectations.

The GOC has also drafted new standards for students which align closely to those for qualified individual registrants. The AOP believes that these standards do not take sufficient account of students’ level of experience and confidence, and the fact that their professional judgement is not yet fully developed, bearing in mind that the standards must be met by students from the beginning of their first year.

Kevin Thompson, AOP Chairman, added: “We look forward to working closely with the GOC to make sure members understand their duties under the new standards.”

FODO makes comments of GOC standards

July 2015

Commenting on the release of the GOC's response at this week's council, FODO's Ann Blackmore said, "We congratulate the GOC on their thorough public consultation on revised standards for individual registrants.

"We will of course want to examine these in detail. But we welcome the fact that following consultation many of the sector's representations have been taken into account.

"We do however remain concerned about the way in which some of the Francis recommendations have been included, particularly the duty of candour.

Recommendations designed for cases of serious harm must be appropriately applied in community optics and we feel the GOC’s interpretation here may not get the balance right. Transparency and openness are important but good regulation shouldn’t create unnecessary financial burdens that harm practices without contributing to better patient care.

"We also believe more could have been done to reduce duplication, which we think would have helped make the standards clearer and more accessible. Nevertheless, we now look forward to working with the regulator and sector partners to help implement the standards and develop further guidance where necessary."

Council approves standards of practice

July 2015

The General Optical Council (GOC) has agreed new standards of practice for optometrists and dispensing opticians, and new standards for optical students to come into effect from 1 April 2016.

The standards will support registrants by making much clearer the GOC’s expectations as the statutory regulator with responsibility for setting professional standards in the optical sector. The standards also give room for registrants to use their professional judgement in deciding how to apply the standards in any given situation.

The standards are flexible enough to deal with future developments in practice across the four nations of the UK. They are also flexible enough for registrants to apply regardless of whether they are employees, locums or business owners and whether they work on the high street, in hospital or in domiciliary settings.

The standards are consistent with the standards of other healthcare professionals and so will help registrants who wish to provide enhanced community services as part of teams spanning primary and secondary care.

The GOC has responded to the feedback obtained through all the consultation strands by amending the standards to avoid duplication, make them clearer and ensure that they are achievable for all registrants regardless of their employment status and where they work.

The GOC commissioned independent research agency Collaborate Research to consult on the standards and obtain a robust and representative response from a range of stakeholder groups. In addition to a public consultation, there was a survey of all registrants and a series of focus groups with patients, the public, optometrists, dispensing opticians, students and fitness to practise decision-makers.

Over four-fifths (82 per cent) of the almost 1,900 registrants who responded to the online survey supported the GOC’s new approach to standards. This includes 57 per cent who supported the new approach fully and 25 per cent who supported it partly or with reservations.

There were 206 responses to the public consultation (including 165 from optometrists and 17 from organisations). The majority of the respondents to the public consultation did not agree with the GOC’s approach to setting standards (25 per cent supported, 66 per cent did not).

However, most of the organisations who responded were supportive of the GOC’s approach and the majority of opposing views (58 per cent) were from individual registrants who supported the response of an optical trade association, with around two-thirds citing this verbatim.

Samantha Peters, GOC Chief Executive and Registrar, said: “Our focus is on ensuring that our standards protect and promote the public’s health and safety and it is encouraging to have had such a high level of response from registrants and other stakeholders on the changes we’re making.

“We know the importance of listening, and we’ve used the extensive feedback we received to make changes to enhance the clarity of our standards, and to make them easier to use and more proportionate. I’d like to reiterate our thanks to everyone who has got involved in the consultation.”

There was support for the GOC having separate student standards to reflect the fact that students are still developing their skills, whereas at the moment students are subject to the same Code of Conduct as fully qualified registrants. Many respondents supported the GOC’s position, set out in 2013, that student registration is not necessary, at least for undergraduates. However, until the law changes, the GOC has a legal requirement to register and set standards for students.

The GOC is also updating its Code of Conduct for business registrants to make clear that registered businesses should support their employees in meeting their obligations under the new standards.
The GOC is also keen to achieve legislative change to ensure that it can regulate all optical businesses. GOC Chair, Gareth Hadley, called for the professions to support the GOC’s bid to achieve this legislative change: “The GOC being able to regulate all UK businesses providing optical services would benefit patients and registrants alike by meaning all businesses would need to adhere to high standards and support their optometrists and dispensing opticians in meeting their requirements as individual professionals. It would also create a level playing field for businesses.

“We are pushing hard for legislative change, and were disappointed that the Professional Accountability Bill did not make it into the Queen’s Speech in the spring. I call on colleagues across the sector to join the GOC in arguing with a loud, collective voice for the importance of regulating all businesses that carry out restricted functions, such as testing sight and supplying contact lenses.

“In the meantime, I urge businesses not currently required to register to consider doing so voluntarily to demonstrate to the public their commitment to high standards of care.”

The new standards of practice will come into effect on 1 April 2016, with all registrants receiving a copy in the post by December 2015. As part of the annual retention process, registrants will have to declare that they have read and will abide by the standards.

Registrants will also have to do at least one piece of CET on standards as part of the 2016-18 cycle.

The GOC will write to all registered businesses enclosing the updated code of conduct for business registrants, reminding them of the importance of ensuring they do not prevent their employees from meeting the standards.

Samantha Peters added, “The new standards create a fantastic platform for the optical professions to develop in the future. We look forward to working with the stakeholders who have been so engaged during the consultation period to ensure their successful implementation.”

Collaborate Research’s report is available on our website:
GOC to consult on voluntary code for contact lens sellers

The GOC is set to consult on a voluntary code of practice for online contact lens suppliers. The GOC will consult on the draft code from 3 August to 12 October 2015, and will announce further information on 3 August.

The code of practice is designed to make it easier for people buying contact lenses online to buy and wear them safely and encourage them to have regular aftercare appointments and eye examinations.
Alistair Bridge, Director of Strategy, also updated Council on the GOC’s progress with the other strands of its strategy for tackling illegal practice in the optical sector. These are continuing to handle complaints in line with its prosecution protocol, collaboration with other enforcement bodies to address high-risk areas and guidance for the public on the safe purchase and use of contact lenses.

Complaints handling update

Council also received an update on the GOC’s efforts to speed up its complaints handling.

Lisa Davis, GOC Director of Fitness to Practise, set out work the GOC has already done to speed up the way it deals with complaints. This includes mapping the current process to identify bottlenecks, a more co-ordinated way of listing interim order cases and an internal audit of the FTP process. Planned actions include securing additional resource and pursuing legislative change.

Lisa Davis said, “Speeding up the complaints-handling process is vital in the interests of patients and registrants alike. We are protecting the public by really improving our speed of action in respect of interim orders for the most serious cases causing a patient safety risk, but we know we need to improve the end-to-end time for all FTP complaints.”

Other news

Council discussed the GOC’s recent performance review report from the Professional Standards Authority (PSA). They considered the positives identified by the PSA, particularly the outcomes achieved through the GOC's enhanced CET scheme, as well as the areas where the GOC did not meet three of the PSA’s 24 standards. Further details of the report are available here:

Chair Gareth Hadley announced Caroline Corby as the new Chair of the GOC Investigation Committee following a recent recruitment exercise.
Council approved a revised version of the GOC’s accreditation and quality assurance handbook for optometry courses to clarify the existing requirements and improve governance. This new version is an interim step before the GOC’s education strategic review.

Alistair Bridge updated Council on the GOC’s efforts to secure legislative reform after the Professional Accountability Bill was not included in the Queen’s Speech. Legislative reform is important for the GOC to change the way it regulates optical businesses and students, as well as to speed up the complaints-handling process.

Latest OSCE results announced by the College of Optometrists

July 2015

The results are in for the College of Optometrists’ latest OSCE (Objective Structured Clinical Examination). 324 candidates sat the OSCE in July – the Scheme for Registration’s final assessment – resulting in a pass rate of 75%.

OSCE College StudentsThe OSCE consists of 17 five-minute stations, made up of 16 clinical tasks and a rest station. Each station assesses the candidates’ skills, including history taking, communication, data interpretation, clinical examination and practical skills.

During the OSCE, candidates may be tested on any of the stage two elements of competence set out by the General Optical Council. This assessment acts as a final check that competence across the framework has been achieved and maintained.

The College’s Head of Examinations, Joseph Oakley, commented: “Huge congratulations to those candidates who have passed their final assessment. The OSCE acts as a final check of all that has been learnt at university and refined, practised and consolidated during the Scheme for Registration. Those who have passed have clearly demonstrated their competence across the framework and I wish them all the best in their future careers.”

The College’s Director of Education, Jacqueline Martin added: “Passing the OSCE is the culmination of a lot of hard work and those who have passed should be very proud of all they have achieved during the challenging, but rewarding, pre-registration period.”

Manish Patel passed OSCE and said: “When I found out I had passed I was over the moon. It shows that you have proven your worth to become qualified, and that the hard work has paid off.

“The OSCE is not as bad as people make out; as long as you do what you are taught over your university career, and implement those skills in practice during your pre-reg year, you will succeed. Have faith in yourself and your abilities.”

Now qualified, Manish will work at Boots Opticians in Cardiff, and part time in the emergency and glaucoma clinics at the University Hospital of Wales.

GOC research shows high level of confidence in opticians

July 2015

The General Optical Council (GOC) has today published its research report Public perceptions of the optical professions, finding a high level of confidence in opticians.

The GOC commissioned ComRes to undertake public perceptions research as part of its commitment to better understand the views and experiences of the general public, and what the public expects from the regulator.

The independent report highlights high levels of confidence in, and satisfaction with, opticians among the public. Research found that 96 per cent of those who had been to the opticians in the past two years were either very satisfied or fairly satisfied with their overall experience of opticians.

However, the report also indicates that there is low awareness of the role opticians can play in the detection of eye health problems, compared with testing sight and improving vision. There is also low awareness of the role optometrists can play in treating acute eye problems.

GOC Chief Executive and Registrar, Samantha Peters, said: “This report provides much food for thought for both us and the optical sector more generally, particularly about the need to raise awareness of the roles that optometrists and dispensing opticians can play in improving the UK’s eye health. With only around a third of people associating opticians with detecting eye health problems, and less than one in five saying they would turn first to their optician with an acute eye problem, there is clearly a need for the professions to collectively promote the roles of opticians.

“It will also be important to raise awareness among commissioners of the broader role that opticians perform and the potential for them to provide more enhanced community services. This could really help to alleviate pressure on hospital eye departments by making best use of the skills available in high street opticians’ practices.

“It is very pleasing to see from our research that the public are confident of receiving a high standard of care from opticians and that the vast majority of people have never had a reason to complain. We will commission similar research annually to track whether these perceptions change over time.”

The report has been prepared by ComRes, who interviewed 2,250 UK adults aged 18+ via telephone.

Quotas were applied to ensure a suitable sample size for analysis in each of the UK nations, as well as by age and gender to ensure a representative sample. The GOC Council discussed the top-level findings at its meeting in May 2015.

The report can be found in full on the GOC website at:

Cardiff University is first training provider approved to offer the Higher Professional Certificate in Low Vision

July 2015

Cardiff University has been approved by the College of Optometrists to offer the Higher Professional Certificate in Low Vision. Cardiff University will be the first higher education institution to offer this specialist qualification, designed to enable optometrists to progress in their careers and offer their patients enhanced services. Students will be able to enrol from now and until 21 August 2015 for the first course which starts on 21 September 2015 and runs until June 2016.

The Higher Professional Certificate in Low Vision is part of a growing collection of higher qualifications offered by the College to advance specialist skills and knowledge in order to enable optometrists to provide extended services in key areas such as low vision, glaucoma, contact lens practice and medical retina. Cardiff University already offers the Professional Certificate and Professional Higher Certificate in Glaucoma, the Professional Certificate in Low Vision and the Professional Certificate in Medical Retina.

The Professional Higher Certificate in Low Vision is designed to improve knowledge and skills for optometrists to provide an enhanced standard of low vision care. This certificate will enable an understanding of the evidence base and will update optometrists on recent developments in vision research, relevant to visual impairment.

Jackie Martin, Director of Education at the College of Optometrists, said: “Through our growing range of higher qualifications, we are giving optometrists the chance to develop the specialist skills and knowledge they need to shape their careers and offer high quality, enhanced services to their patients. Going forward, we’re also working to open up similar opportunities for practices, clinics and training providers, to enable them to respond to developments within the sector.”

Dr Barbara Ryan, Director Postgraduate Teaching at the Wales Optometry Postgraduate Education Centre, Cardiff University said: “We are delighted to add this to the suite of higher qualifications available at Cardiff University. We have been offering the Professional Certificate in Low Vision for a while and this course will enable those with the certificate to advance their practice in the community or in a hospital setting. It is designed for those providing a low vision service to people with complex needs. The course is delivered through flexible supported learning that enables working practitioners to watch lectures and listen to podcasts when it suits them. It also includes two days of practical training and two webinars that provide opportunities to practice new skills and discuss cases with colleagues.”

College appoints new Chief Executive

July 2015

The College of Optometrists has appointed Deputy Chief Executive, Ian Humphreys, as its new Chief Executive from 1 January 2016. The announcement comes following a robust interview and selection process which began in March when the current Chief Executive, Bryony Pawinska, revealed her plan to retire after 12 years in the post.

Ian Humphreys at College The New CEODr Cindy Tromans MCOptom, said: “I am very pleased to announce the appointment of Ian as our new Chief Executive. Ian is passionate about the College and the profession, and truly understands the needs of our members, and that makes him the ideal candidate to take the organisation forward.

“Bryony has achieved a great deal for the College over the last 12 years; I thank her for her commitment, and look forward to seeing Ian take on the mantle.”

Ian has been in post as Deputy Chief Executive since March 2014, having previously held the role of the College’s Director of Membership Services and Communications for six years.

During his time at the organisation, Ian has driven major changes in the services the College offers, which have had a significant impact on member engagement and satisfaction. In particular, he led his team in developing many new member services, including a full calendar of CET lectures and peer discussions; a range of highly successful patient information materials and the growth of the College’s annual conference, Optometry Tomorrow, which now attracts over 700 delegates each year.

He said: “I am delighted to have been appointed as the College’s Chief Executive Designate. Under Bryony’s leadership the College has undergone transformational change and I am excited at the prospect of leading the College through the next phase in its development. In what is a rapidly changing professional environment, I will prioritise listening to members and delivering increasing member value and support.”

Bryony Pawinska, current Chief Executive, added: “Ian has worked closely with me since taking on the new role of Deputy CEO early in 2014. He has proved to be a very competent and able leader and I am delighted that Ian has been appointed to take over the CEO’s role in January.”

Prior to joining the College, Ian headed up communications and marketing for the Finance and Leasing Association, the leading representative organisation for the UK consumer credit, motor finance and asset finance sectors. He brings over 25 years experience in membership organisations and a track record of developing and implementing strategic change.

Ian will take up the post on 1 January 2016.

AOP issues GOS guidance to members

July 2015

The Association of Optometrists (AOP) has issued new guidance to its members across the UK about the contents of a general ophthalmic services (GOS) sight test and, for Scottish members, guidance specific to the Scottish GOS system of primary and supplementary tests, which was negotiated by Optometry Scotland in 2006.

AOP Guidance on GOSThe advice comes in response to increasing disquiet in the optical sector and requests from AOP members for clear guidance on the topic. AOP members in England, Wales and Northern Ireland have been sent a new booklet, GOS sight tests – in and out, with members in Scotland receiving a Primary Eye Examination Guide in this week’s edition of Optometry Today (OT).

The Scottish guidance should be read along with Making Accurate Claims in Scotland – which specifies what and when practitioners can claim.

Commenting on the need for the new advice, AOP Chief Executive, Henrietta Alderman, said: “Members have been looking for clarity on the delivery of GOS, particularly in light of the ongoing investigations on behalf of the NHS into the eligibility of some claims.
This guidance, produced by our policy team, aims to assist members when carrying out a GOS test and to remind them of the importance of clear record-keeping.

The guidance for Scottish members incorporates what is included in both a primary and a supplementary eye examination. We hope that these two pieces of guidance will be a helpful resource to our members.”


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