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

  • Illegal practice strategy review

    We are consulting on a revised illegal practice protocol which is available in the ‘related’ section at the end of this page. The GOC’s overarching objective is the protection of the public. Although not a specific statutory duty, we may act on reports about alleged illegal... More

    Closes today

Closed Consultations

  • Education and training requirements for entry to the GOC register as a contact lens optician

    This consultation seeks your views on our proposals to update our requirements for specialist entry to the GOC register as a contact lens optician. These proposals are available to download at the bottom of this page under the 'related' section. The consultation has now been extended and... More

    Closed 3 January 2022

  • 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

We Asked, You Said, We Did

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

We asked

We asked stakeholders to provide feedback on proposed updates to the GOC Remote Hearings protocol. We were conscious that we implemented the original protocol at pace following rapid consultation and have sought to embed some of the positive principles that we implemented since March 2020. We conducted a full public consultation to assess the impact, benefits or disbenefits to these proposals.

You said

There was a positive consensus in terms of the changes to the protocol. Most respondents agreed that the updated protocol achieved our aim of maintaining the focus on public protection while balancing fairness to registrants. There were some minor elements identified that could be tweaked to achieve the best outcomes. The general feedback suggested:

  • The majority agreed with our expectations that most non-substantive events should be conducted remotely. Although some suggested that this should be with the caveat that a physical hearing could be scheduled if required.
  • The definitions set out by the GOC as to when the suitability factors for no or minimal government restrictions could be clearer.
  • Respondents considered that there were occasions when contested evidence could be dealt with at remote hearings. Suitability factors should not be so narrow to avoid a remote hearing where contested evidence is present.
  • The GOC should remove reference to the Coronavirus Amendment Rules which would expire by the time the new document is published.
  • The GOC should review advice relating to taking a religious oath or affirmation in line with the Equal Treatment Bench Book.

We did

We reviewed the responses from the consultation and decided whether to accept, reject or incorporate the feedback. The following amendments have been made:

  • Made it clear that we expect most non-substantive events to take place remotely but will consider all relevant factors to decide on the best mode of hearing.
  • The definitions as to when suitability factors should be used have been revised.
  • Removed reference in the suitability factors which implied that contested evidence would be more appropriate at an in-person hearing.
  • Removed reference to the Coronavirus Amendment Rules and instead set out the process of adjournments in line with our current Rules.
  • Confirmed that the oath or affirmation can be taken even if the holy book is not physically present in accordance with the Equal Treatment Bench book.

We will hold a review of the protocol no later than 31 December 2022 to ensure it remains up to date and invite you to continue to relay your thoughts and experiences during this time to Vineeta Desai – vdesai@optical.org

 

We asked

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 hearing) or applicants seeking initial registration or to restore to the register. We are committed to doing this in a way that is fair to registrants/individuals and in line with the requirements of our legislation.

We recognised that there may be additional risks in sending notices by email and so we drafted a policy setting out the safeguards that we will apply to ensure fairness to our registrants and applicants seeking initial registration or restoration.

We consulted on a draft policy for 12 weeks from 30 June to 22 September 2021. We asked respondents about the content of the policy, whether there was anything unclear or missing, where there were any aspects of the policy that could discriminate against or have positive impacts on stakeholders with specific characteristics, and whether there were any other impacts of the policy.

You said

We received ten written consultation responses from a range of stakeholders including optical representative organisations and our registrants.

Key findings from the consultation were:

  • 75% agreed or strongly agreed with the content of the policy;
  • 62.5% felt that there was something unclear or missing in the policy;
  • 62.5% did not think there were any aspects of the policy that could discriminate against stakeholders with specific characteristics;
  • 25% thought there were aspects of the policy that could have positive impacts on stakeholders with specific characteristics; and
  • 37.5% told us that there were other impacts of the policy that they would like to tell us about.

We did

Overall, there was support for the amended policy from our stakeholders, with suggestions for additions and amendments, particularly from the professional/representative and defence bodies.

On the basis of feedback received during the consultation we made the following amendments to the policy:

  • we amended the policy to ensure it is clear that we will comply with section 23A(3) of the Opticians Act 1989 when implementing The General Optical Council (Committee Constitution, Registration and Fitness to Practise) (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Rules 2020;
  • we clarified when we will implement the policy on the MyGOC database;
  • we updated the consent clause to make it clear:
    • which email address registrants are consenting to and what to do if they wish to change their email address; and
    • that if they do not consent, they will continue to receive other communications except statutory notices by email;
  • we clarified that the policy does not apply to our communications with other participants in the fitness to practise process (for example, complainants or witnesses) as this is outside its scope;
  • we gave examples of routine fitness to practise correspondence and what reasonable attempts the Fitness to Practise team will make in checking that a notice has been received;
  • we made it clear that if we are not satisfied that notice of a hearing sent by email has been received by the individual/registrant, we will send the notice by first class post and, subject to our overriding duty of public protection, we will ensure there is sufficient time for the individual/registrant to prepare in line with statutory timescales;
  • we clarified the attempts we will make to contact someone after sending a notice of failure to apply for renewal to anyone who has not renewed their registration in advance of the renewal deadline;
  • we made it clear that we will also serve notice by post if we are not satisfied that a registrant is aware of their removal from the register; and
  • we amended the paragraph on reasonable adjustments to make it clear that where we receive information that a registrant who has previously consented to receive notices by email may find it difficult to process them in this way (for example, because of a health condition), we will endeavour to meet the needs of the registrant and will consider all reasonable adjustments on a case by case basis.

Further detail about the amendments and the areas we considered are in our GOC response to the consultation located in the 'files' section below (see pages 13-16 for the conclusions). An updated impact assessment is also available.

We published the policy on our website on 20 December 2021: https://optical.org/en/publications/service-of-notices-by-email-policy/

We asked

We asked stakeholders to provide feedback on proposed updates to the GOC Indicative Sanctions Guidance. The aim of this guidance is to assist members of the Fitness to Practise Committee (“FtPC”) to understand their individual and collective responsibilities, leading to the making of fair and just decisions. It was developed by the Council for use by its FtPC when hearing cases and considering what sanction, if any, to impose following a finding of impairment.

You said

Most respondents agreed or strongly agreed that the updated guidance achieved our aim of assisting members of the FtPC to understand their responsibilities and enable the making of fair and just decisions. We are very grateful for the positive and constructive feedback that we received, which included:

  • It could be made clearer in the guidance that the FtPC has a duty to the public to provide clear and cogent reasons so that its decision and the reasons for it can be clearly understood.
  • The guidance on when a hearing may be heard in private could set out the principle of open justice more clearly.
  • A case involving discrimination could be added as a type of case in which a more serious sanction is likely to be appropriate.
  • More recent case law could be added in some areas.

We did

We reviewed the responses from the consultation and decided whether to accept, reject or incorporate the feedback. The following amendments have been made:

  • We re-drafted the guidance on decision making so that it is clear to the FtPC that it must have in mind its duty to the public, when giving its reasons for a decision, to ensure that its decision, and the reasons for it, can be clearly understood in the particular circumstances of the case.
  • We explained more clearly that hearings involving sensitive allegations or personal matters can be adapted to ensure privacy without the need to hold the hearing in private, depending on the particular circumstances of the case.
  • We added cases involving discrimination as an example of a type of case in which a more serious sanction is likely to be appropriate.
  • We added recent case law including, Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care v General Medical Council [2019] EWHC 1638 (Admin) relating to appropriate sanction for dishonesty and GMC v Awan [2020] EWHC 15553 (Admin) with regard to the FtPC’s approach to insight in cases where facts have been found proved despite a registrant’s denial.

We will hold a review of the guidance no later than 31 March 2023 to ensure it remains up to date