GOC statement on referrals for cataract surgery

The General Optical Council registers optometrists, dispensing opticians and optical businesses in the UK.

The GOC outlines the standards expected of its registrants in the Standards for Optometrists and Dispensing Opticians and Standards for Optical Businesses.

The GOC takes seriously any allegation of inappropriate clinical referral or where patients think they have been coerced into undergoing unnecessary treatment or treatment that they do not want.

The following standards for optometrists and dispensing opticians may be relevant in this type of circumstance:

Standard 1. Listen to patients and ensure they are at the heart of the decisions made about their care.

1.2 Listen to patients and take account of their views, preferences and concerns, responding honestly and appropriately to their questions.

1.3 Assist patients in exercising their rights and making informed decisions about their care. Respect the choices they make.

Standard 2. Communicate effectively with your patient

2.2 Patients should know in advance what to expect from the consultation and have the opportunity to ask questions or change their mind before proceeding.

Standard 7. Conduct appropriate assessments, examinations, treatments and referrals

7.6 Only provide or recommend examinations, treatments, drugs or optical devices if these are clinically justified and in the best interests of the patient.

Standard 10.  Work collaboratively with colleagues in the interests of patients

10.2 Refer a patient only where this is clinically justified, done in the interests of the patient and does not compromise patient care or safety. When making or accepting a referral it must be clear to both parties involved who has responsibility for the patient’s care.

Standard 16. Be honest and trustworthy

16.2 Avoid or manage any conflicts of interest which might affect your professional judgement. If appropriate, declare an interest, withdraw yourself from the conflict and decline gifts and hospitality.

16.3 Ensure that incentives, targets and similar factors do not affect your professional judgement. Do not allow personal or commercial interests and gains to compromise patient safety.

The following standards for optical businesses may be relevant in this type of  circumstance:

Standard 1.1 Patients can expect to be safe in your care

1.1.10 Your business ensures that any operational or commercial targets do not have an adverse effect on patient care.

Standard 2.1 The services that you provide are open and transparent

2.1.9 Your business encourages staff to declare any conflicts of interest, where they arise, and withdraw themselves from such conflicts.  The joint regulatory conflicts of interest statement sets out what is expected.

Standard 3.1 Your staff are able to exercise their professional judgement

3.1.3 Your business makes sure that operational and commercial pressures do not unreasonably inhibit the exercise of professional judgement.

Standard 3.4 Staff collaborate with others, where appropriate

3.4.1 Your business supports its staff in making referrals and ensures that they only make referrals when appropriate and clinically justified.

The GOC will consider any concerns that our standards have not been met. For full details of our complaints process, please refer to our website:  How to make a complaint.

The GOC is unable to comment on the detail of individual complaints.