New GOC Standards of Practice come into effect

The General Optical Council’s (GOC) new Standards of Practice for optometrists and dispensing opticians, and separate new standards for optical students, have today come into effect.

The new Standards have replaced the Code of Conduct for Individual Registrants, which previously applied to both fully qualified practitioners and students.

The document sets out the 19 standards that optical professionals must meet. They relate both to a registrant’s behaviour and professional performance.

Samantha Peters, GOC chief executive and registrar said: “I am pleased to announce that the new Standards are now in effect. The Standards are designed to support registrants and raise standards by making much clearer our expectations as the regulator. The optical sector is developing in line with the wider healthcare system, and the Standards are designed to be flexible enough to enable registrants’ roles to evolve in the interests of patients. It is important to note that the Standards are not a rule book, and give room for registrants to use their professional judgement in deciding how to apply the Standards in any given situation.”

All registrants have received a copy of the Standards in the post, and they are also available to access on the GOC website. As part of the retention process, all fully qualified registrants had to declare that they had read and would abide by the Standards. Fully qualified registrants will also have to complete at least one piece of Continuing Education and Training (CET) relating to the Standards as part of the 2016-18 cycle.

The new Standards were developed through a comprehensive consultation exercise which included an online survey of all registrants and a series of focus groups with patients and the wider public, optometrists, dispensing opticians, students and fitness to practise decision-makers.

The new Standards of Practice are available to access on the GOC website.