GOC welcomes the Professional Standards Authority Review Performance Review 2019/20

The General Optical Council (GOC) welcomes the publication of the Professional Standards Authority’s (PSA) annual performance review for 2019/20. The GOC has met 16 of the 18 Standards of Good Regulation.

The review, which assessed performance between 1 October 2019 and 30 September 2020, was satisfied that the GOC met all of the relevant standards for General Standards, Guidance and Standards, and Education and Training. However, they did not satisfy all of the Standards for Registration (Standard 10) or Fitness to Practise (Standard 15).

The PSA noted that although the GOC did not meet Standard 10, due to errors found in the register, the issues were quickly addressed in each case and the appropriate course of action was followed to correct the register and change its processes.

It was observed that the GOC is implementing an improvement plan to address the issues of timeliness in its fitness to practise processes. This commitment to improve is outlined within the GOC Strategic Plan for 2020-25, which includes the development of an improved case management system and a modernisation of its processes.

The PSA also praised the GOC for its response to the unprecedented challenges of COVID-19 pandemic. It noted that guidance was issued for registrants and businesses in a variety of areas, as well as consulting ‘quickly and constructively’ with key stakeholders to make the necessary changes to core activities, such as using technology to hold remote fitness to practise hearings.

Lesley Longstone, GOC Chief Executive and Registrar, said: “We welcome the outcome of the PSA report and are pleased to have met the majority of the Standards, particularly in light of the challenges we have all faced during COVID-19.

“It is heartening to note that the efforts made to adapt to the COVID-19 emergency have not gone unnoticed. We moved as quickly as we could to release a number of statements to help support our registrants throughout the pandemic and clarify certain areas of practice to protect public safety, as well as outlining the amendments to our regulatory functions.

“We are aware that there is still work to be done to improve the timeliness of our fitness to practise cases and have been working to implement our improvement plan, in line with our ‘Fit for the Future’ Strategic Plan for 2020-25. A new triage process has been introduced to ensure that we are only investigating cases where there is a genuine fitness to practice concern, which has helped to reduce the number of cases entering the system unnecessarily.

“The accuracy of our registers is a fundamental part of our duty to protect the public. Although the errors noted were resolved in good time, we will be taking on board the feedback that we have received from the PSA to ensure that we are continuously improving and on track to delivering world-class regulatory practice.”

Read the full review on the Professional Standards Authority’s website.