We live in a litigious world but who should professionals fear most while carrying out their duties and what effect is that having on patient relationships?

Optical professionals wrestle with the regulator’s rules and responsibilities while dealing with ever demanding patients. Many optometrists work for an employer who has its own idea of what happens in the consulting room and what is expected within the contract of employment.

There are times when the wants of the regulator, the employer and the company lawyer will not align. Should the optometrist or dispensing optician fear the Fitness to Practise committee, a no-win no-fee lawyer or their own HR department?

Professional responsibility will be thrown into stark relief once again with the appearance of Boots Opticians Professional Services at a General Optical Council FTP hearing in the run up to Christmas. The notification does not make happy reading for any party. It concludes that ‘fitness to carry on business’ is impaired by misconduct due to its [Boots Opticians Professional Services] failure ‘to adequately address the concerns raised’.

Away from the case above it’s clear that duty of candour requires openness, understanding and transparency. That’s hard enough between patient and practitioner but throwing lawyers, regulation and money into the mix results in an atmosphere of mistrust.

Marcus Dye, head of standards and CET at the GOC recently wrote that at the heart of duty of candour was the principle that ECPs should be open with patients when things go wrong and the GOC is of the view that an apology was not an admission of liability. Sadly few businesses would want to test that assertion in court.

Openness is sometimes painful but without it duty of candour is just a hollow sentiment.