The Ophthalmic Common Clinical Competency Framework

In 2016, the Common Clinical Competency Framework (CCCF) was published, setting out the standards and guidance for the knowledge and skills required for non-medical eye healthcare professionals to deliver patient care in a multidisciplinary team setting.

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Based heavily on The College of Optometrists’ higher qualifications, we welcomed the move towards a consistent skill set across the eye health system to ensure consistent quality of service provision, irrespective of setting. Earlier in 2016, the Royal College of Ophthalmologists’ (RCOphth) Glaucoma Commissioning Guidance used the College of Optometrists’ higher qualifications in glaucoma as the exemplar NICE compliant qualification for non-medical professionals. 

The Framework, now renamed the Ophthalmic Common Clinical Competency Framework (OCCCF), has now been developed into a curriculum, with corresponding workplace-based assessments and resources, covering four clinical areas; acute and emergency eye care, cataract assessment, glaucoma and medical retina.

Our concerns surrounding the OCCCF curriculum during the development stages, the increasing distance from both the initial content of the original CCCF and principles of independent case management, has resulted in The College of Optometrists not endorsing the OCCCF at this time.  However, our involvement has meant we have been able to voice these concerns to the RCOphth.

We are aware that, following the publication of the OCCCF curriculum on 20 May 2019, the optometric community has expressed concerns that this publication implies a loss of independence to the optometric profession.

We have raised these concerns with the Royal College of Ophthalmologists. They have reassured us that:

  • Optometrists entering hospital practice at core competence level (or with a professional certificate or higher certificate in an area of practice), will not be asked to demonstrate again the skills in which they have already been assessed.
  • The Diploma in Therapeutics (Independent Prescribing) is not covered by the OCCCF curriculum. The curriculum indicates where this qualification is required.
  • Optometrists will not be asked to demonstrate again the knowledge and skills they have already gained by obtaining qualifications such as the Professional Diploma in Glaucoma. 
  • The College’s higher qualifications will continue to demonstrate a high level of clinical care and high value clinical judgements. For example, to run a satellite hospital clinic in glaucoma, where no consultant is present, the Diploma in Glaucoma is necessary, as it is at a higher level than level three of the OCCCF curriculum.
  • The OCCCF curriculum is aimed at those working under consultant supervision in the hospital eye service. It is for those employed in secondary care only.
  • The OCCCF is entirely voluntary and optometrists who wish to undertake an OCCCF qualification will need to demonstrate that they have completed the curriculum and assessments, as it is portfolio-based training.

The College of Optometrists upholds the principles of independent case management that underpinned the development of our higher qualifications. Optometrists have a vital role to play in helping to manage the increasing demand for ophthalmic services. We are committed to supporting optometrists in working as independent clinical decision makers, with systems of clinical governance and clinical leadership that deliver the high quality of clinical care our patients deserve.


Further information

More information on The College of Optometrists’ higher qualifications.

More information on the Royal College of Ophthalmologists’ OCCCF.


Published: 11 June 2019