New Complaints Handling Practice Standards for Opticians

Apr 01, 2016

The new Practice Standards for Optometrists, Dispensing Opticians and students come into effect today (1 April 2016). For the first time, the standards specifically refer to complaints handling and set out what is expected of GOC registrants. Most practices will already be complying with the requirements, but it is worth reminding yourself of the complaints policy within your practice and for those managing practices to reviewing these. 

Top Points to Note:

  • You must now inform patients of their right to complain to the GOC or refer their complaint to the OCCS for mediation at an appropriate stage. Review your policy and decide when this information will be given. It may differ for different complaints. 
  • Bear in mind PS 19 and the duty of candour.
  • You can contact the OCCS for advice and guidance on your policy and how you and your practice can approach to complaints handling in light of the new Standards.
  • Remember record keeping is important - not just clinical information but also dispensing, advice and recommendations and when responding to concerns raised by patients. 

For more information, please contact the OCCS Team on 0344 800 5071, or email

18.  Respond to Complaints Effectively 

  • 18.1  Operate a complaints system or follow the system that your employer has in place, making patients aware of their opportunities to complain to yourself or your employer. At the appropriate stage in the process, the patient should also be informed of their rights to complain to the General Optical Council or to seek mediation through the Optical Consumer Complaints Service.
  • 18.2  Respect a patient’s right to complain and ensure that the making of a complaint does not prejudice patient care.
  • 18.3  Respond honestly, openly, politely and constructively to anyone who complains and apologise where appropriate.
  • 18.4  Provide any information that a complainant might need to progress a complaint including your General Optical Council registration details and details of any registered specialty areas of practice.
Since 1 April 2014, the OCCS has assisted over 4,500 consumers and practices to resolve their consumer complaints. Jennie Jones, head of the OCCS, explains: ‘We are delighted that the OCCS  is seen as an effective and useful service, providing independent and impartial mediation and advice. The team does an amazing job ensuring that both the consumer and the practice feel heard, understood, and importantly, helped to find a very practical resolution to the complaint. Mediation is not about judgment or deciding who is right. It is about understanding each other’s perspective to be able to find an answer both can accept. We will soon be reporting on our 4th year in action, and look forward to sharing even more insight and useful information for all involved in optics.'