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

  • 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. What are we seeking your... More

    Closes 20 December 2021

  • 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 19 January 2022

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 created speaking up guidance for our registrants in response to recommendations following The Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust Public Inquiry in 2013, the subsequent Freedom to speak up report and the creation of the National Guardian’s Office in England. We wanted to play our part in making sure that everyone working in the optical sector is free and able to speak up about concerns they have, and therefore created the guidance to make our expectations clear and, hopefully, give our registrants more confidence in speaking up when they need to.

We asked for stakeholders’ views on:

  • the clarity, accessibility and ease of use of the guidance;
  • whether the guidance would give more confidence in knowing what to do if a registrant encountered a patient/public safety concern;
  • whether the guidance would give a registrant confidence to speak up if they identified patient safety concerns;
  • whether there was anything missing, incorrect or unclear in the guidance;
  • whether the guidance was sufficiently flexible to accommodate differences in policy and practice across the nations of the UK;
  • whether the guidance would help to protect patient and public safety;
  • whether there were any specific issues or barriers which might prevent registrants from using the guidance;
  • whether there were any aspects of the guidance that could have an adverse or negative impact on patients and the public, individual registrants, businesses or others;
  • whether there were any aspects of the guidance that could discriminate against stakeholders with specific characteristics; and
  • the extent to which the guidance would have a positive impact on patients and the public, individual registrants, businesses or others.

We also asked about whether there would be any specific supporting activities that would be beneficial to registrants in implementing the guidance and if there was anything further we could do to promote speaking up and a culture of openness and honesty within optical care.

You said

Our 12-week public consultation closed in March 2021 and we received 72 responses from a range of stakeholders including individual registrants and professional/representative organisations. Overall, there were mixed views from respondents on the draft guidance, revealing general support for the guidance in principle but a great deal of hesitance and nervousness around speaking up about potential harm which was only partly allayed by the guidance.

A full summary of the findings from the consultation are available on pages 6-7 of the ‘GOC response to the consultation’ (available at the end of this section). Key findings from the consultation were:

  • 56% of respondents thought the draft guidance was presented in a way that was clear, accessible and easy to use;
  • 52% of respondents thought that the draft guidance would give them more confidence in knowing what to do if they had a patient safety concern;
  • 38% of respondents thought that the draft guidance would give them confidence to speak up about those concerns;
  • 46% of respondents thought there was something missing, incorrect or unclear in the guidance;
  • 39% of respondents thought that the draft guidance was sufficiently flexible to cover all four nations of the UK;
  • 48% of respondents said that the guidance would help to protect patient and public safety;
  • 67% of respondents thought that there were specific issues or barriers which might prevent registrants from using the guidance;
  • 34% of respondents said that aspects of the guidance could have an adverse impact on patients and the public, individual registrants, businesses or others;
  • 56% of respondents did not think there were any aspects of the guidance that could discriminate against stakeholders with specific characteristics;
  • 62% of respondents thought that specific supporting activities would be helpful to registrants in implementing the guidance;
  • 74% of respondents thought that there was more the GOC could do to promote speaking up and a culture of openness and honesty within optical care; and
  • 52% of respondents thought that overall, the guidance would have either a positive impact or a very positive impact on patients and the public, individual registrants, businesses or others.

We did

We reviewed the feedback received during the consultation and made amendments to the guidance, including:

  • giving more information about the use of the terms “speaking up”, “whistleblowing” and “raising concerns”, and the link between them;
  • more clearly explaining our rationale for using the term “speaking up”;
  • more clearly explaining the difference between “speaking up” and “duty of candour”, and the link between them;
  • emphasising the importance of registrants seeking advice from their professional/representative body, trade union and/or speaking up guardians in local optical committees or employers;
  • adding a new paragraph on barriers to speaking up, which addresses the impact of structural inequalities, emphasising this in the section for businesses;
  • making it clear that businesses should do all they can to create an appropriate culture for speaking up and that we will investigate instances of victimisation and discrimination;
  • confirming that we would take very seriously and have the power to take action against any individual or business registrant who discourages anyone from speaking up or treats anyone unfairly because of speaking up; and
  • adding a flowchart to summarise the process to be followed.

Further detail about the amendments and the areas we considered are in our ‘GOC response to the consultation’ located at the end of this section (see pages 30-32 for the conclusions). An updated impact assessment is also available.

The new guidance is available on our Standards site.