The General Optical Council has today set out plans to review education in the optical sector.
The Education Strategic Review will ensure that qualifications leading to GOC registration will prepare optometrists and dispensing opticians for the roles they will carry out in the future, as technological change and enhanced services reshape the delivery of optical services.
The review, announced in the GOC’s 2016/17 Business Plan, will consider the standards of competence that students must meet and how they are assessed.
The GOC will be deferring work in other areas to ensure it is able to dedicate sufficient resources to the Education Strategic Review.
Samantha Peters, GOC chief executive and registrar, said: “The optical professions are changing fast and the courses which lead to qualification as a dispensing optician, contact lens optician, optometrist or independent prescriber must ensure they reflect this in the future. We will be consulting widely with stakeholders to consider how education should change in the future, particularly to reflect registrants’ greater roles in providing enhanced services and technological change. Clearly, this project is a big undertaking but it is essential to ensure long-term patient safety. Because of its wide scope, we will be deferring some other activities until next year to ensure that we can carry out all our projects with sufficient thought, resource and stakeholder engagement.”
The new GOC business plan, available at https://www.optical.org/en/about_us/strategic_plan/index.cfm, also now prioritises consideration of future legislative reform for the optical sector and health professions more generally. To free up resources, three projects have been rephased, with activity being deferred from the draft business plan received by Council in February 2016. These are:
Standards Strategic Review – the GOC will continue during 2016/17 to implement the new standards of practice for individual registrants, but is deferring until 2017/18 the development of new standards for optical businesses. However, on 1 April 2016 the GOC updated its Code of Conduct for business registrants to be clear that all businesses must not prevent their employees from complying with the GOC’s new individual standards; and
CET evaluation – consideration of changes for the next CET cycle will now take place in 2017/18 once the GOC has reviewed the just-finished 2013-15 cycle.
Illegal practice strategy – the GOC plans to defer until 2017/18 work to develop a voluntary code of practice for online contact lens sellers, on which the GOC will provide an update at its next Council meeting on 11 May.