CET exceptions policy

Closed 8 Jul 2021

Opened 15 Apr 2021


Continuing Education and Training (CET) is a statutory requirement for all fully-qualified optometrists and dispensing opticians. All fully-qualified registrants must earn a minimum number of CET points and meet a minimum set of requirements by the end of each cycle to stay on the register.

Our CET Rules provide that “the Registrar may remove or refuse to retain (a) the name of a registrant or (b) particulars of a registered specialty, if the registrant has failed to meet the CET requirements under the Rules”. Although the CET requirements are mandatory for all registrants, the Registrar has discretion to decide whether to remove or refuse to retain a registrant, or to decide not to do so. We consider that this discretion should be exercised fairly and consistently, and therefore introduced the Exceptional circumstances in completing CET requirements policy in 2015 to outline how this would be achieved. The current policy advises that in exercising their discretion as to whether to remove or refuse to retain a registrant, the Registrar will consider exceptional circumstances that are unforeseen or are over and above everyday experiences, resulting in a registrant being unable to practise and therefore unable to undertake CET.

The policy represents a reasonable means to identify the circumstances in which the discretion of the Registrar may be exercised which balances fairness for registrants with the need for public protection. As with all GOC decisions, we act in a way that supports the GOC’s statutory obligations, is consistent, and follows a fair process. 

We have used the policy on two occasions since its inception – at the end of the 2013-15 and 2016-18 CET cycles. We have considered the learning from the application of the policy and reviewed it to ensure that it continues to be fair to registrants while ensuring our overarching objective of protecting the public.

We have made some updates to the policy (see policy in ‘related’ section at the end of this page), which are outlined in further detail in the next section of this consultation and in the pdf version of the consultation document in the 'related' section. These updates can be summarised as follows:

  • shifting the focus from the exceptionality of the circumstances of the registrant to emphasise public protection;
  • increased transparency in the decision-making process;
  • expectations around maternity, paternity and adoption leave; and
  • removing the restriction that only those registrants whose exceptional circumstances had resulted in them being unable to practise could be considered under the policy.

We have also produced an impact assessment, which is included in the 'related' section at the end of this page.

Why your views matter

We consider that the updated policy will be fairer to registrants by increasing transparency about the decision-making process and will better protect the public by more clearly setting out our focus on our overriding objective. We are interested in stakeholders’ views on these amendments before we finalise the updated policy ahead of the end of the 2019-21 CET cycle.

The public consultation will last for a period of 12 weeks.