Research by the General Optical Council (GOC), the UK regulator for the optical professions in the UK, shows that 85 per cent of registrants feel confident in their ability to meet its new Standards of Practice, which came into effect in April 2016. The survey, which was sent to all registrants and received over 4,000 responses, highlighted that 91 per cent of optometrists and dispensing opticians said they had a good understanding of the new standards.
Alistair Bridge, GOC director of strategy, said: “The new standards define clearly what we expect of registrants, reflect current good practice and are consistent with those of other health care professionals. For the standards to be effective in protecting the public, registrants need to have a good grasp of them and feel confident they can apply them. The survey results demonstrate that we have made good progress on this front since the new standards came into effect. We have worked hard to communicate and actively promote the new standards to registrants. It is therefore pleasing to see that registrants are responding positively. Most importantly, we are pleased that respondents feel confident in their ability to apply the new standards in their daily practice.”
The GOC’s survey also highlighted that 65 per cent of registrants felt that their practice had improved as a result of undertaking the GOC’s Continuing Education and Training (CET) scheme. Respondents saw the value of completing CET activities, particularly peer review, and believed that they were better practitioners as a result.
The survey also sought to better understand registrants’ experience of the annual retention process. The results were overwhelmingly positive, with 93 per cent of registrants rating their experience of the GOC’s annual retention process as either ‘excellent’ or ‘good’. GOC registration renewal is now open for 2017/18.
When considering how well the GOC is carrying out its role, only 13 per cent of registrants felt that the GOC was unfair when taking action through the fitness to practise process. However 40 per cent of registrants did not know, with 48 per cent believing the GOC to be fair.
Alistair Bridge said: “These figures indicate that many registrants do not have much knowledge of how the fitness to practise process works – and of course only a very small proportion of registrants have direct experience of it. We will be doing more to explain how we ensure that registrants are treated fairly during the fitness to practice process and we will also be raising awareness of our wider role in supporting all registrants as we promote higher standards across the sector. It is worth highlighting as well that the number of people that we erase from the register each year is far smaller than many people think; only four registrants were erased from the register in 2016, which is 0.02 per cent of the total number of individual registrants.”