GOC publishes updated Continuing Education and Training (CET) exceptions policy

The GOC has published its Continuing Education and Training (CET) exceptions policy, alongside its response to the consultation. The policy replaces the GOC’s ‘Exceptional circumstances in meeting CET requirements policy’.

CET is the mechanism we use to assure the public that our registrants keep their skills and knowledge up to date and remain fit to practise. The Opticians Act 1989 allows the Registrar to remove registrants who do not meet the statutory minimum CET requirements. We recognise that it will not always be proportionate to remove a registrant who does not meet their CET requirements, and the policy sets out the Registrar’s discretion for retaining such registrants in circumstances where this would not risk public protection or undermine the public interest.

Our updated policy builds on lessons learnt from application of our previous policy in earlier CET cycles.  The policy now focuses more clearly on public protection, setting out expectations around maternity, paternity and adoption leave. The new policy no longer lists of examples of exceptional circumstances. Instead, we give examples of our previous decisions on a range of different types of exceptional circumstances, increasing transparency in the decision-making process overseen by the Registrar.

We held a public consultation from April to July 2021. Overall, there was support for the updated policy from stakeholders, with the majority agreeing that the updated policy achieved the aim to appropriately balance fairness to registrants with maintaining a clear focus on public protection, and that our expectations for registrants on maternity, paternity or adoption leave sufficiently protected the public.

Leonie Milliner, Director of Education, said:

“We are in the final stages of the current CET cycle and we encourage registrants to do everything that they can to meet their CET requirements by 31 December 2021. We have listened to feedback during the consultation and have updated our CET exceptions policy so that it continues to be fair to registrants while ensuring our overarching objective of protecting the public. If any registrant is unable to meet their CET requirements by the end of the cycle due to exceptional circumstances, it is open to them to make an application under this policy to demonstrate to the Registrar that remaining on the register would not risk public protection or undermine the public interest.”

Further detail about the feedback we received during the consultation and the amendments we made to the policy is given in the full consultation response available on our consultation hub.

The revised policy is available on the CET exceptions page of the GOC website.