GOC response to joint statement on concerns about funding for Education Strategic Review

We acknowledge the concerns raised in the joint statement issued on 1 October 2020 by the College of Optometrists, Association of Optometrists and Optometry Schools Council regarding funding for the Education Strategic Review (ESR). We would like to address these concerns and explain the steps we are taking to understand the financial impact of our proposals to update the education and training of future optometrists and dispensing opticians.

We have commissioned expert consultants, Hugh Jones Consulting, to work with stakeholders and education providers to gather evidence and produce a financial impact assessment. This will be used to advise our Council and ESR Expert Advisory Groups (EAGs) on the financial impact of our proposals. We have specifically chosen a consultancy that has significant experience of higher and further education funding regulations across the four nations.

This assessment builds on the outcome of the sector-wide funding roundtable we held on 13th March 2020, the subsequent published GOC Council paper ‘Further and Higher Education Funding’, and the financial impact assessment contained within our draft impact assessment published as part of our current ESR consultation. Within the consultation we also invite respondents to share any potential financial impacts.

Our aim is to update our current Quality Assurance Handbooks and related policies with proposals that are financially sustainable and meet patient safety and service-user needs. We will not approve proposals which do not meet these principles or our overarching statutory role to protect the public. However, this does not mean that our proposals need to be financially sustainable for every single provider and every mode of delivery that future providers may choose to operate.

The financial impact assessment we have commissioned will help us to understand the impact of any transition costs and any likely additional on-going costs, particularly in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. We look forward to continuing to work with stakeholders and providers as we seek evidence of potential impact and in developing our approach to mitigation. We will then consider how these impacts may be mitigated and ultimately whether the benefits, in terms of public safety, outweigh the costs.