News from Council 11 November

The General Optical Council (GOC) held its November Council meeting which considered the findings from the Education Strategic Review (ESR) consultation, changes as part of its Continuing Education and Training (CET) Review, and annual registration fees.

Annual fee 2021-22

Council agreed not to raise the annual registration fee for 2021-22 due to the uncertainty of the impact of COVID-19 on the economy and registrants. The fee for fully qualified registrants and businesses will remain at £360, and at £30 for students.

In further recognition of the potential hardship caused by COVID-19 on lower earning registrants, Council also agreed to permanently increase the qualifying threshold for the low-income fee from £12k to £16k. Instead of only allowing applications for a low-income fee at the point of registering or renewing, applications will now be accepted at any point.

Education Strategic Review (ESR)

Council considered the outcome of the GOC consultation to update its education and training requirements from the latest ESR consultation, which ran from July to October 2020.

The consultation asked for feedback on three key proposals, which would replace the existing Quality Assurance Handbooks for optometry and dispensing optics – Outcomes for Registration, Standards for Approved Qualifications and Quality Assurance and Enhancement Method.

The Council agreed that the GOC’s Expert Advisory Groups (EAGs) should review and refine the proposals, including responding to concerns that the outcomes in the clinical practice categories required further development, whist retaining its high-level outcomes-orientated approach. It also agreed that further work was needed in communicating the concept of the single point of accountability.

Council agreed that the decision on approval will be taken in February 2021 to allow the two EAGs to incorporate the feedback from the consultation.

The draft ESR consultation report is available in the Council papers, along with the equality and diversity impact assessment and financial impact assessment. The final consultation report will be published shortly.

CET Review

Council discussed the findings from the latest CET consultation which ran from May to August 2020 and changes made to the proposals in light of feedback received. The proposals consulted on included:

  • Changing the name from ‘CET’ to ‘CPD’,
  • Replacing the standards of competence for education with the Standards of Practice,
  • Introducing a mandatory reflective exercise for all registrants
  • Revised domains of CPD to broaden its scope,
  • Approving providers once they have demonstrated their ability to provide good quality CPD,
  • A provider audit scheme which would target specific providers in response to registrant feedback and complaints.

Overall, the majority of registrants supported the proposals. However, some changes have been made to address concerns and suggestions raised through consultation feedback as follows:

  • Extend peer review requirements to dispensing opticians, which was not part of the proposals but strongly supported by many respondents.
  • Allow CPD that is less than one hour, but greater than half an hour, to be considered for fractional points
  • Allow registrants to decide whether learning is relevant to their professional development instead of requiring non-approved CPD to be ‘designed for healthcare professionals’ in order to count towards a registrant’s points total.

Following agreement on the proposals, the GOC will consult on draft CET rules for registrants and providers for Council approval, alongside moving forward with necessary changes to the MyCET platform needed to implement them. In addition, details of the changes will be communicated with stakeholders in advance of their coming into effect at the start of the new cycle on 1 January 2022.

The consultation report is available in the Council papers.