News from Council 10 February 2021

We held our first Council meeting of 2021 yesterday, which considered the final proposals for new education and training requirements, external audit of fitness to practise (FtP) decision making, and our 2021-22 business plan.

New education and training requirements

Council approved new education and training requirements for GOC approved qualifications leading to registration as a dispensing optician or optometrist.

These will replace our current Education Quality Assurance Handbooks for optometry (2015) and ophthalmic dispensing (2011) and will ensure that all dispensing opticians and optometrists are effectively equipped to deliver eye-care services in a rapidly changing landscape to meet the needs of patients in the future.

The requirements, which are a result of an Education Strategic Review (ESR), are outlined in three documents:

  • Outcomes for Registration;
  • Standards for Approved Qualifications; and
  • Quality Assurance and Enhancement Method.

Full details of the requirements and changes can be found in our press release.

We will be communicating with our stakeholders, including registrants, education providers, employers and students to outline how these changes will affect them as soon as possible. It is anticipated that most education providers will work towards admitting students to approved qualifications that meet the new Outcomes and Standards from the 2023/24 or 2024/25 academic year.

The final set of documents can be found in the Council papers and will be published officially in due course.

Fitness to Practise (FtP) audit

Council noted the findings from the 2019-20 audit carried out by RadcliffesLeBrasseur (RLB) solicitors, as part of the Professional Standards Authority (PSA) annual performance check.

The audit reviewed decisions made between 1 April 2019 and 31 March 2020, and focused primarily on higher-risk decisions, such as cases closed by the Registrar, case examiners and by the Investigation Committee (IC) and Fitness to Practise Committee (FtPC).

Overall, the auditor found “substantial compliance with the Council’s statutory obligations.” We will be taking forward the learning points identified.

2021-22 Business Plan

Council approved the GOC’s budget and business plan for 2021-22, which reflect our ‘Fit for the Future’ strategic plan for 2020-25. The business plan will be available on our website shortly.

Chair of Council

This Council meeting marked the final meeting for Gareth Hadley OBE. During Gareth’s eight years as Chair, he oversaw the launch of the ESR and introduction of new Standards of Practice for optometrists and dispensing opticians, students, and optical businesses.

Gareth will be handing over his role to Dr Anne Wright CBE, who has a strong regulatory background and most recently served as Member and Lay Vice-Chair of the Nursing and Midwifery Council.

Dr Wright will take up her appointment on 18 February 2021. Read more in our official press release.

This meeting also marked the last for Helen Tilley and Scott Mackie, both registrant Council members. Their final days as Council members will be 30 April and 31 March, respectively.

More information from the meeting is available in the Council papers. Find out how you can attend a future meeting.