GOC response to Government consultation on removing COVID-19 vaccination as a condition of deployment for health and social care staff

Since COVID-19 vaccinations became available for health and social care professionals, the GOC has encouraged all optometrists and dispensing opticians to be vaccinated as soon as possible in order to protect their patients. Where a professional is unable to vaccinate because of a medical exemption, we have made it clear that they should take steps to mitigate risk through infection prevention and control procedures.

The UK Government has announced its consultation on removing the requirement for health and care professionals to be vaccinated in order to be deployed in Care Quality Commission (CQC) regulated healthcare settings in England (in force for care homes since 10 November 2021 and due to be introduced in other settings from 1 April 2022). Despite this change in policy, we will continue to promote the message that our registrants should be vaccinated in all settings in which care is delivered and that they should encourage other patient-facing colleagues and support staff to do the same.

Leonie Milliner, Chief Executive of the General Optical Council, said “Our registrants, including business registrants,  must continue to meet their obligations to protect patients and the public through taking steps to ensure that the environment in which care is delivered is safe and any risk of infection is mitigated. Getting vaccinated to protect themselves, their colleagues, patients and the public is a personal professional responsibility and a vital part of meeting this obligation.

We will work closely with Government, optical sector professional and representative bodies, employers and representatives in the devolved nations to ensure consistent messaging on the importance of vaccination to ensure the safety of patients.”