14 July 2021

GOC consultation on independent prescribing education and training

The GOC opens consultation on proposed changes to its requirements for education and training in independent prescribing.

The GOC has launched a consultation on its proposed changes to its requirements for education and training in independent prescribing (IP). They are seeking views on three documents which will replace their current Handbook for Optometry Specialist Registration in Therapeutic Prescribing and the Competency Framework for Independent Prescribing., which have specified requirements for therapeutic prescribing since 2008.

What happens currently?

Optometrists must have been qualified as an optometrist in the UK for two years before they are eligible to embark on the clinical practice placement required as part of the current IP qualification route. They first complete a course of study at a GOC-approved university or institution, before undertaking a 24-session clinical placement under the supervision of an ophthalmologist within the hospital eye service. The final part of the route to qualification as an IP optometrist is to pass the College’s final assessment (Therapeutic Common Final Assessment). 

What would the proposed changes mean?

  • Providers will need to offer the whole qualification route, incorporating the theoretical learning, final assessment and approximately 90 hours of learning in practice.
  • Optometrists will not have to be qualified for two years before being able to study for an IP qualification. In theory, this means that optometry students would be able to complete their IP qualification as part of their degree.
  • Someone undertaking the in-practice learning required to become an IP optometrist can be supervised by an approved and registered IP practitioner, called a designated prescribing practitioner or DPP. This replaces current supervision arrangements that require an ophthalmologist to supervise anyone undertaking the clinical practice placement.
  • Knowledge, skills and behaviour will be assessed using new learning outcomes, which have been aligned to external prescribing frameworks, such as the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s (RPS) draft Prescribing Competency Framework.
  • IP registrants would not have to renew their specialty separately or supply details of prescribing decisions undertaken in the previous 12 months.

The College is drafting a consultation response and will invite members to comment on the draft in the coming weeks. 

You can also respond to the GOC’s consultation directly the GOC consultation hub.

Related further reading

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The first insight on the impact of therapeutic qualifications on optometric practice.