14 October 2020

College responds to petition on examination testing times

We are aware of a petition regarding examination testing times during the pandemic. Read our statement.

We are aware of a petition regarding examination testing times during the pandemic. College COVID-19 clinical guidance states that clinicians should have sufficient time to perform the required infection control procedures and complete all clinically indicated tests. The additional time needed for infection control, and performing the test under adverse conditions, will mean that test appointment times are likely to be longer than pre-COVID-19 and employers need to allow for this.

The College does not recommend a minimum or maximum testing time as each clinician and practice should determine an appointment time that is appropriate for the practice set up, demographic and number of support staff available. This will vary by practice, but should allow the optometrist sufficient time to perform the examination thoroughly and safely. Some practices may choose to use appointment management strategies to reduce the number of ‘did not attend’ (DNA) appointments. If this is the case, there should be a plan in place to safely manage the clinic should all patients attend, and this should be in agreement with the clinician. Patient safety, waiting times and the wellbeing of the optometrist are essential considerations when planning clinics.

If optometrists feel they have not been given sufficient time to safely perform sight tests, they should raise this with their practice manager, and if working for a large employer, their professional services team. It is important they follow this procedure to ensure they receive the relevant regulatory protection when raising a concern. If the response is unsatisfactory, or the situation continues, and they feel patient safety is being compromised, they should follow the raising a concern / whistle blowing procedure and report their concerns to the GOC. If a clinician intends to raise a concern and would like to discuss it in the first instance, they can email or phone our clinical adviser for more advice specific to their situation.

College Guidance for Professional Practice:

Relevant GOC standards include:

  • 12.1.2 Ensure that the environment and equipment that you use is hygienic.
  • 12.2.6 Minimise the risk of infection by following appropriate infection controls including hand hygiene.
  • 16.3 Do not allow personal or commercial interests and gains to compromise patient safety.

GOC business standards:

  •  3.1.4 Allows staff sufficient time, so far as possible, to accommodate patients’ individual needs within the provision of care.

This article was correct at time of publication. For the latest COVID-19 information, please visit the COVID-19 page.

Related further reading

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For the very last issue of Optometry in Practice, Professor Jonathan Jackson MCOptom reflects on the past two decades of the journal and its contribution to our learning.