February 25th 2020

GOC Guidance on Disclosing Confidential Information

Yesterday (24 February 2020) the General Optical Council (GOC) published its supplementary guidance relating to the disclosing of confidential information. The GOC has produced the guidance to help registrants in situations where they need to consider the professional requirement to maintain confidentiality alongside the need to ensure protection of patients and the public.

Registrants have fed back to the GOC that the topic can be complex and confusing.  Research undertaken by the council has shown that the area is confusing for registrants, particularly in relation to where a patient may not be fit to drive, and that registrants are not clear about what they should do in response and therefore the document primarily focuses on such situations. It does not create new requirements or give legal advice.

The GOC advises that the guidance should be read alongside the Standards of Practice for Optometrists and Dispensing Opticians, which all optometrists and dispensing opticians must apply to their practice. For student optometrists and student dispensing opticians, the guidance should be read alongside the Standards for Optical Students.

Within the document, the GOC stresses that ‘the requirement to maintain confidentiality is not absolute and can be overridden in cases where this is in the public interest, such as where there is a risk of public harm.’

Likewise, it advises that registrants ought to use their own judgement to apply the guidance that follows to their own practice and the variety of settings in which they might work. For more information and to download a copy of the new guidance please click here.

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