OSA responds to consultation on Optician’s Act

July 25, 2022

The OSA recently responded to the General Optical Council’s consultation on what needs to change  to ensure that regulation remains relevant and fit for the future.

 

Commenting on the consultation, the OSA’s Chair, Andy Hepworth said:

 

“The OSA is pleased that the GOC has begun this review. We fully support their primary objective of ensuring patient safety. But we are concerned that the consultation does not seem sufficiently forward looking, with an assumption that care will continue in much the same form that it is currently delivered. While the growing role of technology is acknowledged, there is little recognition of how much this is likely to change how eye care is delivered nor what is the most appropriate way to enable and support these developments.”

 

In its response the OSA argues that the GOC approach does not allow for the inevitable technological developments which can be expected to substantially change how eye care services can be safely and efficiently delivered. The GOC needs to ensure it allows for and supports technological developments that it has not yet even considered, or has considered unlikely. It should not seek to regulate technology in eye care but should give more thought to whether very different regulation is needed, or indeed whether it should regulate less when the technology used is approved and regulated by the MHRA. There is a real risk otherwise that excessive regulation will both prevent and deter companies from entering the market. As a result, UK eye care patients will not be able to take advantage of new and emerging technologies which potentially could provide them with better or more convenient care.

 

The OSA also highlights that the consultation fails to make a distinction between technologies used to provide care in practice by an eye care professional, those used directly by a patient, and online services/sales. These are all very different activities which require different approaches.

 

Andy went on to explain:

“In short it seems to us that in many cases the questions asked are too narrow, because they don’t allow for the myriad ways in which technology will undoubtedly play an increasingly important part in eye care. The regulatory regime needs to allow for this. And the primary role of the GOC should be to support eye care professionals by providing guidance and best practice advice to give them the confidence to use these new technologies and provide the best possible care to their patients.”