Draft guidance for registrants: Speaking Up

Closes 10 Mar 2021

Opened 17 Dec 2020


Within the GOC’s Standards of Practice for Optometrists and Dispensing Opticians there is a requirement at Standard 11 to protect and safeguard patients, colleagues and others from harm. This includes expectations to raise concerns about patient/public safety, act on them (if within the individual’s remit) or escalate them if they remain unresolved. There are similar expectations on business registrants under the Standards for Optical Businesses (Standard 1.1) and students under the Standards for Optical Students (Standard 10). We call 'raising concerns' in this way 'speaking up'. You may have also heard the term 'whistleblowing' used to describe it.

We know that there are difficulties with healthcare professionals being able to speak up about patient/public safety and have their concerns listened to and dealt with appropriately. The majority of recent inquiries into wrongdoing within NHS trusts show that staff had concerns about what was happening at an early stage, but they were either blocked from raising them or not taken seriously. The Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust Public Inquiry in 2013, tasked with looking at a series of failings at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust, recommended the formation of the National Guardian’s Office to champion speaking up by staff and that regulators incorporate a duty of candour into their professional standards. A number of more recent inquiries, including the Paterson Inquiry and the Gosport Independent Panel, have also highlighted incidences of concerns being raised by staff but not appropriately actioned.

We are keen 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 have created this guidance to make our expectations clear and, hopefully, give our registrants more confidence in speaking up when they need to.

The speaking up guidance on which we are consulting is available to download at the bottom of this page under 'related'.

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