The General Optical Council (GOC) has approved the budget and business plan for 2019/20. The GOC will focus on five key projects:
Education Strategic Review
The GOC is awaiting the findings of the consultation into draft Standards for education providers and draft learning outcomes for students. The GOC is encouraging all stakeholders to respond to the consultation before it closes on the 25 February 2019. The consultation is hosted on the GOC’s consultation hub https://consultation.optical.org.
The GOC has commissioned research to help identify what risks the optical professions pose to patients and the public, now and in the near future. The findings of this research will inform the development of the new CET scheme. The new CET scheme will come into force in the 2022 – 24 cycle.
The GOC is looking at how it canfurther support the rollout of the newly approved Standards for Optical Businesses. Council agreed to the implementation and communications plan to help businesses understand how to apply the standards in practice.
Council has discussed the importance of legislative reform to allow the GOC to operate efficiently and effectively. The GOC hope that changes to legislation to allow the GOC to appoint more hearings panel members to the Hearings Committee will happen in 2019. An increase in the number of members of the Hearing panel will enable the GOC to hold more fitness to practise hearings simultaneously and therefore speed up the process of dealing with complaints in the interests of patients and registrants alike. Currently the GOC are constrained by the availability of a limited number of hearings panel members.
Council noted the progress that has been made so far, such as the introduction of the new fitness to practise Acceptance Criteria. The updated criteria has enhanced the GOC’s ability to focus resources on cases that raise fitness to practise concerns, thereby improving the GOC’s ability to fulfil its public protection role.
The GOC has also implemented a cross organisation review to develop both large and small-scale efficiency improvements. Successful initiatives already introduced include a greater reliance on in-house corporate legal advice rather than external lawyers. Plans to introduce additional operational efficiencies will be presented to Council later in the year.