A review of the General Optical Council's performance as a regulator has offered praise but called for improvements to the fitness to practise system.
The Council for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence (CHRE) said in its annual performance review that it was concerned about the time taken by the GOC to schedule final fitness to practise hearings.
The GOC's average time from investigation to decision took 57 weeks last year and 'delays in scheduling final fitness to practise hearings can impact upon the quality of the evidence that is available to be considered at those hearings,' the CHRE review said.
It also highlighted a lack of progress in ensuring an appropriate framework was in place to reduce the risk of information breaches at the adjudication stage of its fitness to practise process.
Action was being taken by the GOC to address the concerns.
The GOC was praised for the progress of enhanced continuing education and training (CET) from January 2013.
It has also taken a leading role in initiating collaborative projects with other regulators, including the possibility of co-locating office and hearing space, according to the report. However, the search for a new headquarters has been put on ice (News 06.07.12).
The GOC's online retention system also won praise, as did its work in tackling breaches of the Opticians Act such as illegal practices and unlawful sales of cosmetic contact lenses.
GOC chief executive Samantha Peters said: 'I'm pleased that the report supports our good overall performance as a regulator. We work closely with CHRE at all times to ensure we are delivering effective public protection.
'I'm delighted that they have highlighted so much good work that we've done over the last year, and we will continue the work we have already started to address their improvement points.'