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Treating patients and colleagues fairly

You must make the care of the patient your first and continuing concern.
You must ensure your conduct, whether or not connected to your professional practice, does not damage public confidence in you or your profession.
You must treat every patient politely and considerately.
You must respect patients’ dignity and privacy.
You must not allow your personal views to adversely affect your relationship with patients.
You should tell patients if any investigation or treatment you recommend is not supported by evidence or by established practice.
You are not obliged to see a patient, provided you have reasonable grounds for your decision, such as a threat to your safety or that of your colleagues or the public. However, under UK law, you must not refuse to see any patient on grounds of a protected characteristics (for example young children or older adults who may require more time, or groups at risk of glaucoma who may require a visual fields test). You should record your reasons for refusing to see any patient appropriately. 
You must not discriminate against patients on the grounds of:303
  1. age
  2. disability
  3. gender reassignment
  4. marriage and civil partnership
  5. pregnancy and maternity
  6. race
  7. religion or belief
  8. sex
  9. sexual orientation.
You must stop practising if your fitness to practise is affected by your physical or mental health and may put others at risk.
You must work with colleagues in ways that best serve patients’ interests and communicate effectively with them.
You must not make any patient doubt the knowledge or skills of colleagues or other health care professionals by making unnecessary or unfounded comments about them, either privately or publicly, for example through social media.
You must act quickly to protect patients from risks posed by colleagues. The safety of patients must come first. If you have serious concerns about any practitioner’s fitness to practise you should raise this with them first if you feel able to. If necessary, you should escalate your concerns to an appropriate person. This could be the colleague’s line manager, employer, or person in a primary care organisation or hospital. If you remain concerned you should consult the relevant professional, representative or regulatory body.
Raising a concern is different from making a complaint. If you make a complaint, you might be asked for evidence to prove your case. When you raise a concern, you should not be expected to prove the issue you are concerned about. If you are not sure whether you should act, ask yourself:
  1. what might the outcome be in the short- or longer-term if I do not raise my concern?
  2. how could I justify not raising the concern?
You must treat your colleagues fairly. You must not discriminate against colleagues, see section on Working with colleagues. You must not allow your personal views to adversely affect your relationship with them.
If you receive a prescription for dispensing from another practitioner and there is an anomaly or a complaint of non-tolerance after dispensing, you should contact the prescribing practitioner. You should agree a course of action with them and the patient. The Optical Confederation has produced guidance on this.304


303 Equality Act 2010 [Accessed 1 Nov 2023]
304 Optical Confederation (2018) Second pair and non-tolerance applications – England [Accessed 1 Nov 2023]