July 15th 2020

Eye Examination Complaints 2019/20

What do people complain about and why has this increased this year?

A large year-on-year increase in complaints relating to eye examinations in this year’s annual report could, at first reading, give cause for concern. However, the story behind the headline is very different and is a timely reminder to of us all to properly understand situations before rushing to judgement.

The first point we need to acknowledge is that the OCCS team rightly categorises complaints based on the primary concern raised by the consumer. Whether that initial concern is the substantive issue may not always be the case.

As an example, 42% of complaints relating to eye examinations relate to ‘prescription error’ or non-tolerance to spectacles often easily addressed by a recheck or adjustment to the prescription or dispensing. As can be seen in the data table below, very few concerns relate to the quality of the examination and even fewer would give any cause for concern regarding the provision of services to the public.

The 2020 data also shows how most issues can be successfully addressed by the provision of timely advice and guidance from the frontline OCCS team before directing the consumer back to the practice to secure resolution – less than 5% of which then need to come back to us.

Indeed 42% of cases are successfully addressed through this route and a further 30% by the provision of advice or reassurance by OCCS Resolution Managers.

Despite the increase in activity in this area, only 0.4% of OCCS cases each year will result in referral to the Fitness to Practise team at the GOC. This is down from 2.4% last year.

At a time when our regulator appears to be drawing fire on a number of fronts, it may be timely to acknowledge the excellent initiative instigated by the GOC in 2018 to implement a triage and Acceptance Criteria function.

This significant development has been the catalyst to a significant reduction in referrals into the GOC and enables us to manage complaints through a more flexible mediated approach.

The policy also enables the GOC to refer cases out to us where a flexible and proportionate mediated resolution may be more appropriate. This has been the breakthrough allowing the profession to step change its approach to such complaints and has ultimately been the primary driver of the increase in eye examination complaints at the OCCS with a commensurate reduction in unnecessary complaints sitting in the GOC.

Issue Refer to practice Out of remit  Advice only  Resolved on mediation  Live  Total
Rx/non-tol  16 1 8 7 1 33
Quality of EE  8 5 8 21
Quality of advice 2 2 2 6
Diagnosis/clinical  6 4 1 3 14
Misc  2 5 7
32 14 24 10 1 81

As complaints and their nature continue to change, we reiterate our commitment to providing a flexible, transparent and open service that seeks to resolve complaints, regardless of their nature, in an open fashion.

For more information on our services and teams, contact us on 0344 800 5071 or email us at enquiries@opticalcomplaints.co.uk

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