The General Optical Council (GOC) has launched a four-month pilot of an enhanced Fitness to Practise (FTP) triage process.
The process, said the regulator, was designed to provide it with greater discretion to close cases at an earlier stage, where there was no ongoing risk to the public.
Triage is the process the GOC uses to decide whether a new complaint or referral about a GOC registrant should be subject to a formal FTP investigation. The triage decision-making process is underpinned by Acceptance Criteria, an assessment tool launched in 2018 and updated in July 2019, to determine which complaints or referrals may constitute an allegation of impaired FTP or fitness to train. If a complaint or referral does not meet the Acceptance Criteria, the GOC will not open an FTP investigation.
During the pilot, in cases where it is unclear whether the complaint or referral raises a FTP concern, the GOC will conduct additional enquiries before a decision is made to open a formal investigation.
GOC director of casework and resolutions, Dionne Spence, said: “I am delighted that we are launching this pilot exercise. Last year, our case examiners closed 84 per cent of the fitness to practise investigations that they considered. It is therefore clear to us that we need to enhance the initial assessment activity we undertake at triage stage.
“I am also pleased that this enhanced process means that, in the majority of cases, registrants will be made aware of complaints at an earlier stage and before any decision has been made about formal investigation. I encourage registrants who are contacted by our Triage team to consult with their professional body and to engage with the new process. This will assist us greatly in ensuring that we are making fully-informed decisions.”
The GOC’s Acceptance Criteria can be downloaded from the GOC website here.
The pilot will run until 31 December 2019 and will include further consultation with stakeholders.