GOC updates CET Exceptions Policy

The General Optical Council (GOC) has published an updated CET Exceptions Policy, alongside its response to its consultation on the matter.

The policy replaces the GOC’s ‘Exceptional circumstances in meeting CET requirements policy’, and sets out the GOC registrar’s discretion for retaining registrants in circumstances where it would not risk public protection or undermine the public interest.

The updated policy has been designed to focus more clearly on public protection, setting out expectations around maternity, paternity and adoption leave, said the regulator. It no longer lists examples of exceptional circumstances. Instead, it provides examples of the GOC’s previous decisions on a range of different types of exceptional circumstances “to increase transparency in the decision-making process overseen by the registrar”.

The GOC held a public consultation from April to July 2021 which, it said, showed overall support for the updated policy from stakeholders. According to the GOC, the majority of respondents agreed that the updated policy “achieved the aim to appropriately balance fairness to registrants with maintaining a clear focus on public protection, and that our expectations for registrants on maternity, paternity or adoption leave sufficiently protected the public”.

Leonie Milliner, GOC director of education, said: “We are in the final stages of the current CET cycle and we encourage registrants to do everything that they can to meet their CET requirements by 31 December 2021.

“We have listened to feedback during the consultation and have updated our CET exceptions policy so that it continues to be fair to registrants while ensuring our overarching objective of protecting the public.

“If any registrant is unable to meet their CET requirements by the end of the cycle due to exceptional circumstances, it is open to them to make an application under this policy to demonstrate to the registrar that remaining on the register would not risk public protection or undermine the public interest.”

Feedback received during the consultation and the amendments made to the policy is given in the full consultation response available on the GOC’s consultation hub. The revised policy is available on the GOC’s CET exceptions page.

Alex Webster, head of the ABDO CPD Department, said ABDO members should be aware that the GOC CET Exceptions Policy is not designed to consider the Covid-19 pandemic in general as an exception to completing CET.

She said: “The GOC issued a statement on CET provision early in the pandemic that enabled provision of CET remotely, to allow all registrants to continue to obtain their CET when social restrictions were in place and through to the end of the cycle. The GOC has previously confirmed enough approved CET has been available to all registrants throughout the pandemic.

“If you feel the GOC CET Exceptions Policy is still applicable to your individual circumstances, we would recommend you thoroughly review the requirements document provided by the GOC before submitting an application.”

ABDO is recommending that any ABDO members who are concerned about their ability to complete their CET requirement for this cycle to contact the ABDO CPD office on 01206 734 155 in the first instance.

“We can offer support and advice on your individual circumstances and CET requirements,” said Alex. “ABDO will continue to provide interactive and non-interactive CET in this cycle until 21 December.”