Simon Jones: Little consolation in consultation
The call for responses to the Opticians Act has gone down as something of a damp squib
Author: Simon Jones
Well, that’s it. Finished. The once in a generation opportunity to have a say in shaping optical legislation in the General Optical Council’s call for evidence closed earlier this week (Monday, July 18).
But in a week where Britain basks in record temperatures, the call for evidence runs the risk of going down as something of a damp squib. Maybe it’s just me, but I felt the figure of 350 responses submitted to the GOC was rather disappointing. ‘Stakeholders’ included members of the public, registrants, sector bodies and employers, but no details on the numbers of different respondents have been released yet.
The big battleground looks to be whether refraction can be separated from the eye health exam and handed over to dispensing opticians. While the Association of Optometrists versus the Association of British Dispensing Opticians might not have the entertaining in-fighting and smear campaigns of a Conservative Party leadership contest, the outcome will also be one influenced by a select few and felt by many.
The leadership race looks to have sparked as much excitement with the public as the call for evidence looks to have done with registrants, which is possibly the most disappointing aspect for me. You don’t have to cast your minds too far back to recall how vocal the profession was on matters like the proposed optometry apprenticeship or when it felt organisations were underperforming in response to the pandemic.
Although much of that engagement was channelled incorrectly and pushed the boundaries of what was acceptable and decent, to see that fire burn out on a genuine opportunity to shape the industry is disheartening.
The GOC should have been swamped with thousands of submissions. Even if half of the responses came from registrants, that’s only 175 out of tens of thousands that had their say.