Statement on the provision of essential eye services in England

The General Optical Council (GOC) welcomes the guidance and statements for registrants practising in England that have been issued today by the following optical sector organisations:

This supplements the guidance produced by the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish governments which suspend routine services and limits registrants to only providing essential and urgent, emergency or acute care in these countries, available on our dedicated COVID-19 page.

The GOC fully supports its registrants in following this guidance pending further direct instructions from NHS England.

GOC standards

Our Standards for Optical Businesses include the following standards to ensure that patient safety is always prioritised:

  • Standard 1.1 Patients can expect to be safe in your care: 
  • Standard 1.2 Patient care is delivered in a suitable environment:
  • Standard 3.1 Your staff are able to exercise their professional judgement: 

Corresponding standards are also present in the Standards for Optometrists and Dispensing Opticians and the Standards for Optical Students.

Further guidance from GOC

In the current context it is important that businesses follow national government guidelines, particularly in relation to social distancing measures.  We realise that this is difficult given the absence of any statement on delivery and funding of optical services in England and funding in Northern Ireland, but patient safety should be paramount in any decisions made by businesses to continue providing services.

We realise that some of our own legislation and regulations related to how care is delivered may prevent care being delivered effectively during the emergency situation.  As such, from last week, the GOC began to publish a series of statements in order to provide reassurance to our registrants that care can be provided in different ways and to remove any unnecessary regulatory barriers to this happening, i.e. our guidance on remote care for supply of spectacles and contact lenses or aftercare provision for contact lenses. 

We will continue to review and publish statements on our legislation and regulatory activities where appropriate to offer confidence to registrants that we support them in the professional decisions they are making at this difficult time.

Further information