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6 June 2012
The General Optical Council (GOC) has welcomed the Law Commissions review of UK healthcare regulation in a consultation response published today.
The GOC supports the broad approach proposed by the Law Commissions of a single overarching legislative framework for healthcare regulators.
The proposed changes could make it easier for the GOC, and other regulators, to introduce rule changes. Currently, particularly for fitness to practise rules, primary legislation change is often required. This can be time-consuming and affected by uncertainty such as political change.
GOC chief executive and registrar Samantha Peters said, "The Law Commissions' proposals have generally found an appropriate balance between flexibility and consistency. A simplified, modern and nimble legal framework will help us to respond faster and more effectively to developments in optics, regulation and wider healthcare."
The GOC plans to review its current role in regulating both students and optical businesses, but supports the flexibility that the Law Commissions' proposals will bring.
Samantha Peters explained, "We believe that the time may be right to reassess our current role in regulating students. We're aware that student registration imposes some significant costs on students, training providers and the GOC, and we will examine our current system with an open mind.
"It's important that the legislation allows us, and other regulators, the flexibility to adapt to changes in the sector, and we hope the new legislation will do that. But it's equally important that any changes to current arrangements are necessary, proportionate and do not create unnecessary costs or disruption for the sector."
"How optical businesses are regulated also merits further exploration in the context of the review of our legislation."
In the coming months the GOC intends to commission research into the optical business sector. The GOC will consult extensively with stakeholders before proposing any changes to how optical businesses are regulated.
Samantha Peters added, "This review will be vital for the future shape of healthcare regulation and I’m delighted with the extent to which the optical bodies and patient groups have also engaged with the process."