Welcome to the GOC Consultation Hub

Welcome to the General Optical Council Consultation Hub. We are the regulator for the optical professions in the UK. Our purpose is to protect the public by promoting high standards of education, performance and conduct amongst opticians. 

We run consultations because it is important to us that the people who are involved with and affected by our work have a say in how we operate. 

This site will help you find and participate in consultations that interest you. Recently updated consultations are displayed below. Alternatively, search for consultations by keyword, postcode, interest etc.

For more information about us please visit our website 

Open Consultations

Closed Consultations

  • Education and training requirements for specialist entry to the GOC register (additional supply, supplementary prescribing and independent prescribing)

    This consultation seeks your views on our proposals to update our requirements for specialist entry to the GOC register in the additional supply (AS), supplementary prescribing (SP) and/or independent prescribing (IP) categories. These proposals are available to download at the bottom of... More

    Closed 6 October 2021

  • Remote Hearings Experience

    We have been facilitating remote hearings at the GOC since the start of the pandemic in March 2020. In 20/21 we facilitated 93% of events remotely. We would like to hear about your thoughts and experiences with remote hearings. We are keen to identify what went well, what hasn’t... More

    Closed 4 October 2021

  • Hearings and indicative sanctions guidance 2021

    As the UK regulator for optometrists and dispensing opticians, we are committed to protecting the public, maintaining standards, and responding to concerns about the fitness to practise of our registrants. In doing so, there are circumstances in which we need to hold hearings. ... More

    Closed 23 September 2021

  • Service of statutory notices by email policy

    There are circumstances in which our legislation requires us to issue statutory notices or notifications (‘notices’) to our registrants (for example, removal of a registrant from the register, refusal to retain or restore a registrant on/to the register, or notice of an interim order... More

    Closed 23 September 2021

  • Remote hearings protocol 2021

    As the UK regulator for optometrists and dispensing opticians, we are committed to protecting the public, maintaining standards and responding to concerns about the fitness to practise of registrants. As part of our fitness to practise process, there are circumstances in which we hold... More

    Closed 23 September 2021

We Asked, You Said, We Did

Here are some of the issues we have consulted on and their outcomes. See all outcomes

We asked

Our CET exceptions policy consultation sought views on our updates to our ‘Exceptional circumstances in completing CET requirements’ policy. We updated the policy to emphasise public protection, increase transparency in the decision-making process, set out our expectations for registrants on maternity, paternity and adoption leave, and removed the restriction that only those registrants whose exceptional circumstances had resulted in them being unable to practise could be considered under the policy. We felt that the updates to the policy would be fairer to registrants and better protect the public by more clearly setting out our focus on our overriding objective. We asked for stakeholders’ views on:

  • to what extent they agreed with our views that the updated policy achieved our aim of appropriately balancing fairness to registrants while maintaining the focus on public protection;
  • to what extent they agreed that our expectations for registrants on maternity, paternity or adoption leave sufficiently protected the public;
  • whether there was anything unclear or missing;
  • whether there were any aspects of the policy that could have a negative or positive impact on stakeholders with protected characteristics; and
  • whether there were any other impacts of the policy they wanted to tell us about.

You said

Our consultation closed in July 2021 and we received 28 responses. Overall, there was support for the amended policy from our stakeholders, with suggestions for additions and amendments, particularly from the professional/representative bodies.

Key findings from the consultation were:

  • 87% of individual registrants and 67% of professional/representative bodies agreed that the updated policy achieved our aim of appropriately balancing fairness to registrants while maintaining the focus on public protection;
  • 72% of individual registrants and 67% of professional/representative bodies agreed that our expectations for registrants on maternity, paternity or adoption leave sufficiently protected the public;
  • 25% of individual registrants and 86% of professional/representative bodies thought that there was something unclear or missing in the policy;
  • 14% of individual registrants and 71% of professional/representative bodies thought there were aspects of the policy that could discriminate against stakeholders with protected characteristics; and
  • 14% of individual registrants and 29% of professional/representative bodies thought there were any aspects of the policy that could have a positive impact on stakeholders with protected characteristics.

We did

We reviewed the feedback received during the consultation and decided to make the following amendments to the policy:

  • we have emphasised that the Registrar will first consider the registrant’s reasons for not meeting their CET requirements and whether they took all reasonable steps to meet their requirements but were unable to do so due to exceptional circumstances beyond their control;
  • we have clarified that factors associated with COVID-19 could be considered as an example of an exceptional circumstance (this was thought to help with any indirect discrimination that could be experienced by certain groups with protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010 during the pandemic);
  • we have re-ordered and updated the factors to be taken into account by the Registrar during the decision-making process;
  • we have updated the examples of decisions from previous cycles with further detail to provide more clarify about the reasoning behind the decision and have changed two of the examples to illustrate a wider range of decisions;
  • we have updated examples of evidence; and
  • we have clarified our expectations for registrants who have had a period of maternity, paternity or adoption leave during the cycle if they have also experienced ill health during the cycle.

Further detail about the amendments and the areas we considered are in our GOC response to the consultation located at the bottom of this page (see pages 12-17 for the conclusions). An updated impact assessment is also available.

We published the revised policy on the CET exceptions page of our website on 19 October 2021.

We asked

We asked stakeholders to provide feedback on the case management process, following the conclusion of the pilot which ended on 30 April 2021.   

The process was designed to minimise delays that can arise during the pre-hearing preparation period, which led to hearing dates being vacated, and at the hearing stage, where valuable time is often spent dealing with preliminary matters which can ordinarily be resolved before the hearing. 

As part of this process, we expected to facilitate up to two discussions between hearing parties.  These discussions would take place remotely, via a conference call 

We anticipated the first conference call would be held around three months from the date of Rule 29 disclosure on the Registrant. 

The second conference call was expected to take place four to six weeks prior to the first day of the substantive hearing. 

You said

The general feedback was that the case management process was a positive proposal to assist with the timely management of cases.  There were some minor elements that could be tweaked in order to achieve the best outcomes. 

The general feedback suggested: 

The Case Management Meeting plan 

  • The meetings are an excellent opportunity for the parties to raise any issues that would ordinarily be left to a much later stage.  It encourages parties to plan ahead and agree matters before the hearing. 

The Hearings Questionnaire 

  • The Hearings questionnaire is a useful and effective case management tool, in ascertaining availability and mode of hearing.  There is some information specified in the document which the defence are unable to provide at an early stage, but do not consider it to be an issue. 

  • Case management meeting effectiveness could be increased if there was a clear focus on how the APD process will work in suitable cases. 

The conference call record 

  • Full consensus that the case management meeting conference call records were a helpful summary for both parties and in particular unrepresented registrants.   

  • Records are generally adequately reflective of the discussion, clear and helpful summaries of the call. 

  • Noted lack of timetabling to resolve some issues.  Clear deadlines are needed to enable the process to be effective. 

Timings of the Call 

  • Generally, there was some consensus in relation to the current timeframes for calls.  This included meetings to be held at three months from the date of disclosure and/or four to six weeks prior to the start date of the substantive hearing so that issues could be resolved.   

  • Four weeks before a hearing was considered by some to be too late.  

Additional comments 

  • There was strong agreement that a case management meeting is useful tool for all hearing types.  

  • Overall, the benefits of having a case management meeting even if no issues arise are likely to outweigh any time implication concerns and are likely to be helpful at avoiding delays. 

We did

We reviewed the feedback from the plan and associated documents, and decided whether to accept, reject or incorporate the feedback in an adapted form. 

The following amendments have been agreed: 

  • We propose to launch the revised case management process in September 2021. 

  • We have reviewed the timings of the call.  We will offer the first call at three months from the date of disclosure by the GOC to the Registrant.   If parties are unable to hold meaningful discussions at this stage, a call will be offered at around six weeks prior to the start date of the substantive hearing so that a clear timetable can be set when issues need to be resolved.  

  • A case management meeting will be arranged for all substantive hearing types, with the exception of conviction only cases which will fall outside of this policy. 

  • A call will be arranged at the three month stage so that a clear timetable can be set for agreed panel disposal hearings. 

  • We will organise further training to assist the team in effectively managing and timetabling issues.  

We continue to invite you to relay your thoughts and experiences with the case management process so we can continue to improve it. Please contact hearings@optical.org  

We asked

We ran a public consultation seeking stakeholder views on changes we intend to make to our Continuing Education and Training (CET) Rules 2005 (amended in 2012). We are amending our CET Rules in order to underpin the changes that we will introduce at the start of the new three year Continuing Professional Development (CPD) cycle in January 2022.
 

You said

We received 57 responses in total, with 19 from organisations and 38 from individuals. These are some of the key findings. 

  • The majority of respondents, 59%, agreed that the amended CET Rules reflected the changes we are seeking to make to the scheme in January 2022.
  • The majority of respondents, 62%, thought that the amendments made to the CET Rules were clear.
  • Greater clarity was needed on what the CET provider fee, currently set at £45 a year, would be, if this was removed.
  • Greater clarity was needed on the ability of registrants to obtain up to 50% of their CPD points from non-approved GOC providers in future.
  • Greater clarity was needed about what the GOC expected from registrants in relation to the new requirement to undertake a reflective activity.
  • Some dispensing opticians were concerned about introducing a new peer review requirment for this group of registrants. 

We did

We would like to thank all those who responded to the consultation and we have taken on board all the feedback received. The next steps will be for us finalise the amended CET Rules then present this consultation report and the amended Rules to the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC). In order to amend our CET Rules we will need legislative change including approval from the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care and the Privy Council.