The General Optical Council (GOC) published updated education and training requirements for qualifications in Additional Supply, Supplementary Prescribing and/or Independent Prescribing categories.

The requirements came into effect on 1 March 2022 and consist of Outcomes for Approved Qualifications, Standards for Approved Qualifications, and Quality and Assurance Enhancement Method. They set out the knowledge, skills and behaviours an optometrist must demonstrate to be awarded a GOC-approved qualification in AS, SP or IP categories, and the requirements for providers who offer GOC-approved qualifications.

The requirements introduce important and urgent changes to ensure optical professionals can meet future patient and service user needs within service redesign in each nation of the UK. These changes include:

  • Trainees will acquire a single qualification approved by the GOC leading to specialist entry to the GOC register in the relevant category, rather than the two approved qualifications gained either sequentially or simultaneously at present.
  • The approved qualification will be either an academic award or a regulated qualification at a minimum of Regulated Qualification Framework (RQF) (or equivalent) Level 7/11 for AS, SP and/or IP.
  • Trainees upon or shortly after admission to an approved qualification must have identified a suitably experienced and qualified designated prescribing practitioner (DPP) who has agreed to supervise their 90 hours (approximately) of learning and experience in practice. This is a shift from the current requirement of a designated medical practitioner (DMP), in line with other regulators.
  • Trainees will no longer be required to have been practising for two years before undertaking an AS, SP or IP qualification.

On their website, the GOC said:W

We are currently working with education providers to adapt their existing GOC- approved qualifications in independent prescribing or develop new qualifications to meet the new outcomes and standards at a pace which best suits them. We anticipate that most providers would begin to admit trainees to approved qualifications that meet the updated outcomes and standards by September 2023.

For trainees currently enrolled on GOC-approved IP programmes, their route to specialty registration will not be affected by the introduction of these updated requirements.

Our Council approved these new requirements in December 2021, following extensive consultation and engagement with a wide range of stakeholders over the past few years as part of our Education Strategic Review.