Is there a storm brewing following the GOC’s call for evidence on a potential reform of the Optician’s Act? Can the good ship GOC weather the waves whipped up in the maelstrom?

Unseemly self-interest is never a good look, but it follows reform of primary legislation governing optics around like a bad smell. Shouts of self-interest followed the 1958 debut of the Optician’s Act. Whether these accusations were well-founded or simply the consequence in the complexity of creating rules for a profession bridging health and retail is debatable. What is clear is that not everyone will be happy with the GOC’s outcome be it fundamental change or status quo.

The call for evidence by the GOC was prompted by planned reforms to healthcare regulators. The GOC’s director of strategy said it is a unique opportunity for stakeholders to have their say. Shame he will not be around see it through.

With just weeks to go before the close of the GOC’s consultation period the first wafts of self-interest have begun to permeate the online forums. The GOC is often in the firing line; perhaps some optometrists don’t understand the GOC is there to champion the public not the profession?

The basic entrenched positions pit deregulation of refraction against eye health and optometrists’ salaries. The white coat optometrists in one corner and big optical businesses, conspiring with the GOC, in the other. As one poster, incongruously, pointed out; ‘no amount of bleating turkeys will force them to cancel Christmas’.

But the picture is so much more complex. The cost of an optical visit does deter patients, the hospital eye service is creaking, autorefraction has advanced. So, will dispensing opticians take on refraction? How much more eye care could optometrists do if they were not refracting? The list goes on.

The optical model needs changing; is there a storm brewing?

I hope so.