FODO has welcomed the publication of the General Optical Council‘s (GOC’s) new Standards for Optical Businesses which will take effect from 1 October 2019. They build on the previous Code of Conduct for business registrants but reflect changes in legislation and health care which have taken place since the original code was drawn up and are also now aligned with parallel the standards for individual and student registrants. This should enable businesses and practitioners to work together to deliver the best care to patients.
FODO has worked very hard with the GOC to ensure the standards are fit for purpose, capable of being implemented and are proportionate for businesses and practices of all sizes. As the GOC notes the Standards “largely reflect what is good practice already” (page 3).
Members can read key points about the new standards below and access the full version here. FODO believes these new standards will be useful for both practices and practitioners and will be delighted to receive any feedback or queries at [email protected].
As a matter of practicality many elements of the Standards are qualified “as appropriate” or “when appropriate”. This is welcomed and means the standards can be applied fairly and proportionately to all practices and businesses without discrimination. This will be a major reassurance for patients and the public.
Extending to all Businesses (p.3)
FODO strongly supports the GOC’s aim of seeking an extension of its powers to require all optical businesses carrying out restricted functions to be registered and comply with these standards. This will not only ensure protection and safety of patients but also a level playing field for practices.
Exercising Professional Judgment (3.1)
As every optical provider knows, registered professionals exercising their professional judgment is a key part of providing high quality clinical care for patients and the Standards rightly highlight this.
However businesses also have responsibilities to patients who are receiving care in their name, so this is not an unfettered freedom.
As the Standards recognise, everyone can make a mistake and things do sometimes go wrong in all areas of healthcare, including a low risk sector such as ours. Hence the Standards include the need to audit records (2.3.3) and highlight the need for appropriate training and education (3.2), CET (3.2.7) and systems to address and manage clinical and professional performance (3.3.4).
Nothing in these Standards therefore inhibits employers’ or practice owners’ from stablishing clinical protocols or Standard Operating Procedures to protect patients, staff and their own good name. Staff should however always have the right to raise concerns about these either in the cases of individual patients or generally with a senior clinician or manager so that they can in fulfil their own professional duties.
Again, as every member knows, appropriate supervision is a key factor in ensuring high quality patient care. Nothing in these Standards changes the established legal principle that supervision in general means a qualified person being on the premises, aware that they are supervising and in a position to intervene if required.
Although similar supervision of pre-registration optometrists and other trainees will depend of course on the terms of the training and supervision contract.
Business Insurance (1.2.1)
The Standards include a helpful reminder that businesses need to ensure that they have appropriate insurance cover for the business as well as insurance cover for individual registrants. FODO provides the best value insurance in the sector which covers both the business and separately all staff on an unnamed basis. You can learn more about FODO member benefits here.
If you have any questions about the Standards please do not hesitate to raise them in confidence at [email protected].