News from Council – 26 June 2024

The General Optical Council (GOC) held its second Council meeting of the year on 26 June 2024.   

The agenda included discussing the results of the Optical Consumer Complaints Service’s (OCCS) Annual Report for 2023-24 and the GOC’s business registrant survey.  

Optical Consumer Complaints Service’s (OCCS) Annual Report 2023-2024: ‘Agile and Effective Complaint Resolution’ 

Council welcomed the 2023-24 annual report from the OCCS, which acts as a mediation service between consumers and optical practices on a variety of lower-level complaints which may otherwise be received by the GOC’s fitness to practise team. Law firm Nockolds has delivered the service since 2014. 

There was an increase of 3% in the volume of complaints received by the OCCS this year (1,757 in 2023-24 with 1,705 received in 2022-23), and 93% of those were within remit for the OCCS to assist and resolve through effective mediation. 

The OCCS has maintained strong resolution rates in 2023-24, with the number of unsuccessful mediations reducing from 92 in 2022-23 to 73 in 2023-24.  

The OCCS report shows 81 concerns were referred to the OCCS by the GOC in 2023-24. These account for 20% of the concerns received by the GOC during that period. 

An upward trend in complaints about the provision of goods and services continued, with a further 10% increase against the previous year. This year however, there has been a far greater expectation from consumers for a financial resolution to their complaint. 

Complaints in domiciliary care have doubled in number from 42 in 2022-23 to 98 in 2023-24. The OCCS is concerned about the potential barriers to complaining for these patients, who may be more vulnerable due to their personal situation or circumstances, and in the next year will seek to improve accessibility for them. 

The report also highlights the record level of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) delivered by the OCCS across 2023-24 to share insight with registrants, deliver improved customer service, and improve front line complaint management. 

Council complimented the OCCS on their work over the year, as highlighted in the report, particularly around their strong complaint resolution rates and positively received CPD sessions. Council noted how the findings in the report and the OCCS’s knowledge around complaint management could contribute to the development of the GOC’s draft Strategy 2025-30 and review of business standards.  

The full report will be available soon on the OCCS website. 

GOC’s business registrant survey 2024 

Council also welcomed the GOC’s first survey carried out exclusively amongst its business registrants, the results of which were published in April. The GOC carried out the survey to understand more about the businesses it regulates and the issues they face. 

Council agreed the survey will play a useful role in feeding into the GOC’s draft Strategy 2025-30, legislative reform, and review of business standards. There was discussion around findings showing particularly high levels of innovation in businesses, and anticipated growth in the use of technology and AI over the next few years. It was noted that the GOC will need to be agile in its approach to supporting responsible innovation and protecting the public – one of the three objectives in the draft Strategy 2025-30. 

There was also discussion around findings on patient record keeping, insurance, GOC registration fees and CPD.  

There was agreement over the importance of doing the survey on an annual basis to monitor trends over time. Several Council members stated that attempts should be made to increase the survey response rates in future years, so the results show more clearly the differences between devolved nations and business types.  

See the full business registrant survey 2024 findings 

Read the full June 2024 Council meeting papers.