GOC welcomes the Professional Standards Authority Performance Review

The General Optical Council (GOC) has today welcomed the publication of the Professional Standards Authority (‘the Authority’) Annual Review of Performance 2017/18. The GOC has met 22 of the 24 Standards of Good Regulation.

The GOC met all of the relevant standards of good regulation for its Standards and Education work and made progress with the management of Fitness to Practise (FTP) complaints. The Authority’s report notes the improvements that the GOC has made to its fitness to practise (FTP) processes, including the introduction of acceptance criteria to assess whether a complaint may constitute a fitness to practise allegation; and changes to the triage process which is used to determine whether a full FTP investigation will be opened.

Lesley Longstone, Chief Executive and Registrar said:

"We welcome The Authority’s report and their feedback on our work to protect the public. We have endeavoured to improve the initial assessment activity we undertake at triage stage when we receive an FTP complaint, so we are pleased to see this is recognised in us meeting the relevant standard."

The standards the GOC did not meet related to data errors on the register and the total time taken to process fitness to practise complaints. The review covered the period 1 October 2017 to 31 December 2018.

Lesley Longstone added:

"In respect of the data errors, we have now improved our standard operating procedures to ensure that post hearing, amendments to the register or registrant record are made at the appropriate time. We are confident that these improvements will address the Authority’s concerns in this area.

"However, we recognise that we still have significant work to do in addressing the backlogs and delays within our FTP process. We are confident that our updated acceptance criteria and enhanced triage process will ensure that we only open investigations into those concerns that could impact on a registrant’s fitness to practice or to undertake training. We are committed to reducing the time it takes to investigate FTP concerns, and will ensure that cases are regularly reviewed and closed at an earlier stage where there is no ongoing risk to the public. Currently our ability to hold FTP hearings is reduced by the limited availability of hearing panel members. We are pleased, therefore, that we have now secured the legislative change needed to appoint extra panel members. This will allow us to hold more FTP hearings simultaneously and speed up the process of dealing with complaints for the benefit of patients and registrants."

GOC Chair Gareth Hadley added:

"Earlier this year the Government published its response to its 2017 consultation: Promoting professionalism, reforming regulation. There was a welcome emphasis on modernising FTP processes so that regulators can make FTP decisions more quickly, to provide an early resolution for patients and registrants. We look forward to getting more detail about their proposals and taking those changes forward."

Read the full PSA report.


  1. The Professional Standards Authority assesses each of the nine UK healthcare regulators every year. The process looks at how each regulator carries out its functions and their general performance against agreed standards. The review highlights good practice and identifies areas for improvement. It covers the period 1 October 2017 to 31 December 2018.
  2. Read the Authority’s Standards of Good Regulation
  3. The Authority oversees the following nine UK regulatory bodies:
  • the General Medical Council (GMC), which regulates doctor
  • the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC), which regulates pharmacists
  • the Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland (PSNI), which regulates pharmacists.
  • the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), which regulates nurses, midwives and specialist community public health nurses
  • the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC), which regulates 16 health and care professions
  • the General Dental Council (GDC), which regulates dentists, dental hygienists and dental therapists
  • the General Optical Council (GOC), which regulates optometrists, dispensing opticians, student opticians and optical businesses
  • the General Chiropractic Council (GCC), which regulates chiropractors
  • the General Osteopathic Council (GOsC), which regulates osteopaths
  1. Read our explanation of how our FTP procedures, including decision-making at the end of an investigation work

Read the GOC’s Acceptance Criteria can be viewed

About the General Optical Council:

The GOC is the regulator for the optical professions in the UK. Its purpose is to protect the public by promoting high standards of education, conduct and performance amongst opticians. The Council currently registers around 30,000 optometrists, dispensing opticians, student opticians and optical businesses.