ABDO responds to GOC approval of new education standards and outcomes

Responding to the approval by the General Optical Council (GOC) of new standards for qualification providers and new outcomes for students to achieve in order to register as a dispensing optician (DO) or optometrist, ABDO welcomed the GOC’s decision that all qualifications for DOs should be at the same academic level as ABDO’s Level 6 Diploma in Ophthalmic Dispensing.

Commenting on this decision, ABDO CEO Sir Anthony Garrett, said: “I am delighted the GOC has recognised that ABDO’s Level 6 Diploma in Ophthalmic Dispensing, with its degree-level learning, provides the right benchmark for entry to the profession, particularly given the demand for dispensing opticians to develop their roles to help meet patients’ ever-expanding need for high-quality eyecare.”

ABDO also welcomed the GOC’s acceptance of its argument that to ensure consistently high standards of education, there should be greater detail in the new outcomes for registration about the clinical skills and knowledge required of newly-qualified practitioners, and recognition of the distinct roles and expertise of dispensing opticians and optometrists.

ABDO expressed support for the GOC’s intention to commission ‘indicative documents’ that would provide additional information about the content of programmes leading to registration as a DO or optometrist. Requiring qualification providers to follow these indicative documents, or explain why they have not done so, would help to ensure consistent, high standards, while still allowing scope for innovation, the Association stated.

ABDO also added that given that the outcomes for registration and indicative documents were mutually interdependent, it would be important – as the GOC had now acknowledged – to review the outcomes once the indicative documents had been produced.

There remained significant risks associated with moving to the new standards and outcomes, not least in relation to the costs of implementing and operating the new system, the Association noted. It welcomed, therefore, the GOC’s intention to keep its impact assessment up-to-date, and to ensure that its approach to quality assurance was consistent and proportionate, and minimised the overall burden of regulation.

As implementation of the new system now begins, effective engagement with stakeholders would be vital, said ABDO, adding that it was looking forward to working with the GOC to address the strategic and technical issues that would arise.