News from Council – 13 December 2023

The General Optical Council (GOC) held its final Council meeting of the year on 13 December 2023.  

The agenda included approving registrant fees for 2024-25 and the next steps for the GOC's Standards Review.  

Registrant fees 2024-25 

Council approved registrant fees for 2024-25.  

From April 2024, there will be an increase in the main registration fee for optometrists, dispensing opticians, and body corporates of 6.6%, to £405, in line with inflation.  

Fees for students will remain the same at £30, and the discount for low-income fees will remain at £120, meaning that the low-income fee will increase in line with inflation to £285.  

Last year, registrant fees were increased below-inflation to £380. Between 2020 and 2023, registration fees remained frozen at £360. 

Read more in the GOC’s statement: GOC announces registrant fees for 2024/25 

Standards review  

Council discussed proposed draft revisions to the GOC Standards of Practice for Optometrists and Dispensing Opticians, Standards for Optical Students, and Standards for Optical Businesses, and approved proposals to consult on them.  

Based on feedback received, the GOC has proposed revisions and additions to their standards in the following areas: 

  • Leadership and professionalism 
  • Care of patients in vulnerable circumstances 
  • Effective communication 
  • Use of technology 
  • Equality, diversity and inclusion 
  • Social media and online conduct and consent 
  • Maintaining appropriate professional boundaries 
  • Registrant health 
  • Other changes/areas for consideration

Feedback came from GOC stakeholders, patients, the public, Council, the Advisory Panel and the Standards Committee, and a desk-based review was also undertaken. 

With feedback generally showing us that the current standards work well, relatively few revisions or additions to the standards have been proposed. The GOC has also retained the design principles of the existing standards which are not prescriptive about how registrants should behave. The standards will continue to set minimum expectations of behaviour and performance that are required from all registrants in line with the GOC’s statutory objectives. 

In the meeting, Council broadly welcomed the proposals and thanked stakeholders for their input. They welcomed proposed introductory wording to the standards emphasising the duty around patient care, the importance of obtaining valid consent when sharing patient data with others, and a new standard on sexual conduct. They discussed whether there should be a short gap between when the final standards are approved by Council and when they come into effect.  

The public consultation on the proposed standards will launch in January and will be open for twelve weeks. 

The GOC will continue to engage stakeholders throughout the consultation period, to get their insights on the proposed changes and stay on top of the key issues affecting the optical sector. 

Depending on the volume and nature of responses, the GOC will bring a report summarising feedback from the consultation, as well as the final set of standards for approval, to either the September or December 2024 GOC Council meetings. 

The purpose of the Standards Review is to review and revise the existing Standards of Practice for Optometrists and Dispensing Opticians and the Standards for Optical Students, to ensure they are fit for purpose, reflect the current context in which registrants practice and students are trained, and reflect changing public expectations. The Standards Review does not include a full review of the Standards for Optical Businesses. However, the GOC has undertaken a limited review of the business standards to identify where consequential revisions might be necessary, to ensure alignment across the three sets of standards. 

Read the full December 2023 Council meeting papers