Your safeguarding duties: a cause for concern?

19 August 2022
Summer 2022

Despite compulsory safeguarding training every two years, optometrists can still feel unsure of their duties. Kathy Oxtoby looks at what to do if you suspect a patient requires safeguarding.

Would you know how to recognise the signs of abuse or neglect, trafficking or radicalisation? These societal ills usually remain hidden, but often reveal themselves in healthcare interactions – even in occasional ones, such as eye examinations.

This is why safeguarding children and adults at risk is “an overriding professional duty for all registered optical practitioners and practices in the same way as for other health and social care practitioners and providers” (Optical Confederation, 2019). Safeguarding means “protecting a citizen’s health, wellbeing and human rights, enabling them to live free from harm, abuse and neglect”, according to NHS England (2022). The risk of harm has become even more prevalent:  26,307 offences were recorded in 2021-22 – an average of 72 a day, and a 25% rise from the previous year (NSPCC, 2022a).

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Related further reading

The General Optical Council (GOC) has presented a draft response to its call for evidence on the need for change to the Opticians Act (1989) and the consultation on associated GOC policies to its Council.

Members have been invited to have their say on the Guidance for Professional Practice - updated once every three years.

We are saddened to read reports that hundreds of patients have lost their sight completely, or had it irreparably damaged because of NHS backlogs in England.