The General Optical Council (GOC) has today published its research report Public perceptions of the optical professions, finding a high level of confidence in opticians. The GOC commissioned ComRes to undertake public perceptions research as part of its commitment to better understand the views and experiences of the general public, and what the public expects from the regulator.
The independent report highlights high levels of confidence in, and satisfaction with, opticians among the public. Research found that 96 per cent of those who had been to the opticians in the past two years were either very satisfied or fairly satisfied with their overall experience of opticians. However, the report also indicates that there is low awareness of the role opticians can play in the detection of eye health problems, compared with testing sight and improving vision. There is also low awareness of the role optometrists can play in treating acute eye problems.
GOC chief executive and registrar, Samantha Peters, said: “This report provides much food for thought for both us and the optical sector more generally, particularly about the need to raise awareness of the roles that optometrists and dispensing opticians can play in improving the UK’s eye health. With only around a third of people associating opticians with detecting eye health problems, and less than one in five saying they would turn first to their optician with an acute eye problem, there is clearly a need for the professions to collectively promote the roles of opticians. It will also be important to raise awareness among commissioners of the broader role that opticians perform and the potential for them to provide more enhanced community services. This could really help to alleviate pressure on hospital eye departments by making best use of the skills available in high street opticians’ practices. It is very pleasing to see from our research that the public are confident of receiving a high standard of care from opticians and that the vast majority of people have never had a reason to complain. We will commission similar research annually to track whether these perceptions change over time.”
The report has been prepared by ComRes, who interviewed 2,250 UK adults aged 18+ via telephone. Quotas were applied to ensure a suitable sample size for analysis in each of the UK nations, as well as by age and gender to ensure a representative sample. The GOC Council discussed the top-level findings at its meeting in May 2015.