GOC sets out strategy to tackle illegal practice

The General Optical Council (GOC) has set out its strategy for tackling illegal practice in the optical sector, such as online contact lens sales that do not comply with UK law, the unlawful supply of cosmetic contact lenses and the misuse of protected titles.

The GOC will take a proactive, multi-pronged approach to reducing public harm through its new strategy. These actions include:

  • raising awareness among contact lens wearers of the need to follow aftercare advice and have regular check-ups;
  • developing a code of practice for online contact lens suppliers;
  • acting on complaints in line with its prosecution protocol; and
  • strengthening its collaboration with other bodies with a role in enforcement and promoting public health.

Speaking at yesterday’s BCLA seminar in London, Alistair Bridge, GOC director of policy and communications, said: “The independent research we commissioned before devising this strategy showed that certain types of illegal practice can cause significant risks to public health.

“We will now be developing a multi-pronged approach to tackling illegal practice. We are particularly concerned about the unlawful supply of contact lenses and as well as dealing with complaints, we want to raise awareness among consumers of how to gain the benefits of wearing contact lenses without compromising the health of their eyes. This will require coordinated action with stakeholders, combining our collective resources and insight.”

The GOC is also setting up a stakeholder group to help implement the strategy. Dr Rob Hogan, as Council Champion, will chair the group. Rob is an optometrist and past president, trustee and council member of the College of Optometrists. He owns his own consultancy firm, iCare Consulting Ltd.

Richard Edwards has been appointed as a consultant to advice on the delivery of the strategy. Richard has a broad range of experience in the optical sector. After qualifying as an optometrist he had a 26 year career with Boots, where he was director of professional services and learning. He has also been a director of the Federation of [Ophthalmic and Dispensing] Opticians (FODO). Richard is currently a member of the GOC’s Companies Committee and chairs the Optical Confederation’s Education Committee.

The GOC has now published the full strategy on its website.