GOC calls for evidence on need to change the Opticians Act

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The General Optical Council (GOC) has today [28 March 2022] launched a call for evidence on the need for change to the Opticians Act and a consultation on associated GOC policies. Both offer a unique opportunity for stakeholders including patients, the public, registrants, sector bodies and employers to ensure that legislation and regulation are fit for the future.

The GOC has used the catalyst of planned reforms to health and social care regulators’ legislation by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) to consider what further changes are needed for the aspects of the Act that are specific to the GOC or the practice of optometry and dispensing optics.

The call for evidence seeks views, information and factual evidence on the following:

  • GOC objectives for legislative reform;
  • protection of title, restricted activities and registers;
  • regulation of businesses;
  • testing of sight;
  • fitting of contact lenses;
  • sale and supply of optical appliances; and
  • delivery of remote care and technology.

Marcus Dye, GOC Acting Director of Regulatory Strategy, said,

“This is a unique opportunity for our stakeholders to have their say on the future of legislation and regulation. The information and evidence we collect will inform the development of any business case for future change to the Act, as well as inform whether we should consider making more immediate changes to our associated policies.

We will analyse the responses received and consider the need and strength of the case for change and whether further research and analysis of impact is required. If, as a result of the call for evidence and the consultation, we consider changes to legislation or GOC policy are necessary and can be evidenced, we will carry out further public and targeted stakeholder consultation activities on any proposals.

We hope that stakeholders will be excited by this opportunity to provide evidence on what needs to change or stay the same in order to ensure that regulation remains relevant, fit for the future and protects patients.”

The call for evidence and consultation will be open for 16 weeks and will close on 18 July 2022.

To submit your response, visit the GOC Consultation Hub.


  1. The Opticians Act 1989 (‘the Act’) outlines the legislation that underpins the regulatory work of the GOC and defines some aspects of optometry and dispensing optics practice.
  2. The Regulating healthcare professionals, protecting the public consultation and related programme of work currently being carried out by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) is to ensure consistency between the powers that all healthcare regulators have to deliver their regulatory functions of registration, education, fitness to practise, standards and the overall governance and operating framework of the regulator.
  3. Although the GOC is leading engagement with stakeholders and the sector through this call for evidence, responsibility for agreeing changes to the Act does not rest with the GOC but with Parliament, and the pace and outcome of any changes sought will be determined by other stakeholders such as DHSC, devolved administrations and/or NHS commissioners.

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