June 12th 2023

Registration with the GOC – Why is it Important?

Today’s article is a result of the ongoing support and collaboration between the OCCS and the GOC where we have assisted in attempting to demystify the FtP process and share learnings from some of the concerns that have been raised with us. In the article we look at why registration with the GOC is important.

The GOC has four statutory functions:

  • Setting standards for the performance and conduct of registrants;
  • Approving qualifications leading to registration;
  • Maintaining a register of individuals who are fit to practise or train as optometrists or dispensing opticians, and bodies corporate who are fit to carry on business; and
  • Investigating and acting where a registrant’s fitness to practise, to train or to carry on business may be impaired.

The four statutory functions of the GOC are there to both maintain standards and to protect the public. This is achieved by maintaining a register of optometrists, dispensing opticians, student optometrists and dispensing opticians, specialty practitioners and bodies corporate conducting business in optometry or dispensing optics in the UK.

The register is available to search on the GOC website so that patients can ensure that the optical professional providing their eyecare is registered. The register displays various pieces of information about the registrant, including their name, GOC registration number, their profession including approved specialties, and may include any FtP decisions.

When applying to join, renew or restore to the GOC register, there is a professional duty to declare any criminal convictions or disciplinary action, including that from another regulator or physical/mental health issues which may affect your fitness to practise.

Failure to make a declaration may lead to a registrant’s fitness to practise being investigated and so it is important to read and understand the declarations guidance for more information.

When reviewing declarations, there are a few different decisions the Registration team can make:

  • Grant: registration will be granted following a review of the declaration.
  • Grant with a warning: registration will be granted following a review of the declaration, and the registrant will be advised to re-declare when renewing the following year.
  • Refer to FtP: further investigation is needed and the declaration has been referred to the GOC Triage team who will consider, in line with the Acceptance Criteria, whether to open an investigation.

If the team receives a declaration outside of the registration renewal period, it is referred to the Triage team for assessment. When the Triage team receives declarations, they will first consider whether there has been a breach of the relevant standards and whether the breach amounts to an allegation under section 13D of the Opticians Act 1989, and will assess the declaration against the Acceptance Criteria.

The Acceptance Criteria is the guidance the FtP team uses to determine whether to accept a complaint as an allegation of impaired fitness to practise. If the complaint meets the Acceptance Criteria, an investigation will be opened to determine whether the registrant’s fitness to practise is impaired.

For more information and to register with the GOC, visit https://optical.org/en/registration/join-the-register/

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