COVID-19 statements

Closes 7 Jan 2021

Opened 15 Oct 2020


This consultation seeks views on how the GOC can continue to support our registrants and the optical sector throughout the COVID-19 pandemic as different parts of the UK experience local and potentially national restrictions now and in the future.

In particular, we would like your views on:

  • a proposed framework for when our existing COVID-19 statements should apply going forwards, linked to The College of Optometrists’ red/amber/green classification system;
  • the content and impact of our existing COVID-19 statements; and
  • whether there are further areas of GOC regulations, legislation or guidance that need to change or be put in place to ensure more effective regulation in the future, either during a pandemic or as a result of the pandemic.

All current statements will remain in place pending the outcome of this consultation and review dates have therefore been extended to 31 January 2021 (except for the CET provision statement which has been extended to 31 December 2021).

Please see the 'related documents' section at the bottom of the page for the full consultation document and impact assessment.

Why We Are Consulting

During the COVID-19 emergency, we realised that some of our legislation and regulations may have prevented care being delivered effectively during a pandemic, particularly remote care, which was an important part of keeping infection rates low and reducing risk to patients.

We were also being asked specific questions regarding how our standards and legislation applied to practice during the emergency. To help support registrants, we published a series of statements aimed at removing unnecessary regulatory barriers, clarifying certain areas of practice and bolstering the guidance we normally give on our standards for optometrists, dispensing opticians, students and optical businesses.

Some key areas covered were remote care delivery and infection prevention and control. We also sought to reassure our registrants and the sector that we would support them when they acted in good conscience and exercised professional judgement for the public benefit.

Due to the need to implement change quickly, we were only able to consult a small number of key stakeholders in the optical sector and healthcare commissioners prior to implementation.

Their contributions and feedback were invaluable but we acknowledge the importance of seeking a wider range of views from our registrants, patients and the public in developing our regulatory processes and policies, and now propose to undertake a full public consultation on these statements to:

  • ensure they remain effective; and
  • determine how they should apply in different phases of the current or any future pandemic. 

We are also interested in whether some of these statements should become more general regulatory policy, independent of COVID-19, and in some cases whether changes should be made to our legislation.

Consequently, we feel that now is the right time to seek wider views on:

  • the content of our COVID-19 statements;
  • when the statements should apply during different phases of the COVID-19 pandemic;
  • the impact and effectiveness of our COVID-19 statements; and
  • the impact of securing emergency legal powers to more effectively deal with pandemics and similar emergencies in the future.

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

Give Us Your Views