The General Optical Council (GOC) has released further details about the outcome of its business regulation review, which is set to require all optical businesses carrying out restricted functions to register.
Activities that would fall into this category are sight testing, contact lens fitting, supply of contact lenses, and spectacle sales to the under 16s, registered blind or partially sighted.
The GOC believes the proposed changes would enhance its ability to protect and promote public health and safety. They would also remove the current system of complex registration requirements and empower the regulator to take action against any business that fails to meet its standards of conduct.
The proposals are subject to legislative change and are unlikely to come into force before 2016/17 as the UK Law Commissions are currently undertaking a wide-ranging review of the legislation underpinning healthcare regulation. The GOC will consult further on the implementation of the new system, covering issues such as the fee structure and ensuring that there is not an undue burden on smaller businesses.
The GOC estimates that an additional 4,000 businesses would need to register under the proposed rules.
The GOC also proposes to revise the Code of Conduct for business registrants so that it is more targeted at the risks associated with business practices. This will tie in with the GOC’s ongoing standards review, which is considering themes arising from the Francis Inquiry such as the importance of candour, compassion and meeting the needs of more vulnerable patients.
Samantha Peters, GOC chief executive and registrar, said: “Our proposals are designed to better protect the public by accounting for the fact that some matters are within the control of the business rather than individual registrants. This can include ensuring effective processes for supervision and complaints handling, important decisions about investment in training and equipment, and finding the appropriate balance between clinical and commercial incentives.”
The full statement can be read on the GOC website.