The College of Optometrists

Honesty and integrity

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Sub-sections

Key points

  • You must be honest and trustworthy.
  • You must make the care of the patient your first and continuing concern.
  • You must not discriminate against patients or colleagues.
  • You must act quickly to protect patients from risks posed by colleagues.
  • You must inform the General Optical Council (GOC) of any matter that may impair your fitness to practise.
  • You must declare to the GOC all criminal convictions, cautions and disciplinary proceedings, except minor road traffic offences.
  • You must co-operate with inquiries, fitness to practise hearings and complaints procedures.
  • Your financial and commercial practices must not compromise patient safety. 
  • You must not accept inducements or gifts that may be seen as affecting your patient care.
  • You must be honest in your financial and commercial dealings with patients and all other parties.
  • You must be covered by adequate and appropriate insurance to practise in the United Kingdom throughout the period of your registration.

Principle

D1
You must be honest and trustworthy.250

Treating patients and colleagues fairly

Patients

D2
You must make the care of the patient your first and continuing concern.250
D3
You must ensure your conduct, whether or not connected to your professional practice, does not damage public confidence in you or your profession.250
D4
You must treat every patient politely and considerately.250
D5
You must respect patients’ dignity and privacy.250
D6
You must not allow your personal views to adversely affect your relationship with patients.
D7
You should tell patients if any investigation or treatment you recommend is not supported by evidence or by established practice.
D8
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. You should record your reasons for refusal.
D9
You must not discriminate against patients on the grounds of:251
  1. age
  2. disability
  3. gender reassignment
  4. marriage and civil partnership
  5. pregnancy and maternity
  6. race
  7. religion or belief
  8. sex, or
  9. sexual orientation.
D10
You must stop practising if your fitness to practise is affected by your physical or mental health and may put others at risk.250 

  

Colleagues

D11
You must work with colleagues in ways that best serve patients’ interests and communicate effectively with them.250
D12
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.
D13
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.
D14
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? And
  2. how could I justify why I did not raise the concern?
D15
You must treat your colleagues fairly. You must not discriminate against colleagues, see para C165.251 You must not allow your personal views to adversely affect your relationship with them.
D16
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.252

See sections Partnership with patients and Working with colleagues.

Openness in legal or disciplinary hearings

D17
You must follow the law.
D18
You must inform the General Optical Council (GOC), all relevant authorities and your employers if there are any matters relating to your character, behaviour, judgement or health that may impair your fitness to practise.253
D19
You must declare to the GOC and all relevant authorities all criminal convictions, cautions and disciplinary proceedings, including minor misdemeanours but not road traffic offences which are dealt with by a fixed penalty notice.252
D20
You must co-operate with formal and informal investigations, fitness to practise hearings and complaints about yourself or colleagues, whilst following guidance on confidentiality.254
D21
The College has produced guidance for optometrists who undertake work as expert witnesses.255

See sections on Confidentiality, Dealing with complaints, Working with colleagues and Raising concerns.

Integrity and conflicts of interest

D22
You must ensure that your financial and commercial practices do not compromise patient safety.250
D23
You must be honest in your financial and commercial dealings with patients, colleagues, employers, insurers and other organisations.
D24
You must not accept inducements or gifts that may be seen as affecting your patient care or your recommendation of a course of action, for example referring a patient to a particular clinic.256
D25
You must never accept gifts or hospitality that may affect, or be seen to affect, your professional judgement.
D26
You must be honest about and declare any conflict, or perceived conflict of interest. This applies to your practice as well as related activities such as attending meetings and giving lectures.
D27
You must only refer a patient to a colleague if this is in the patient’s best interests, rather than for your own, or a colleague’s, financial gain or benefit.

See section on Partnership with patients.

References

250 General Optical Council (2016) Standards of practice for optometrists and dispensing opticians [Accessed 10 Nov 2017] 
256 Bribery Act 2010

Indemnity

D28
You must have an appropriate level of professional indemnity and, where appropriate, product liability insurance.257
D29
You must ensure that your insurance covers any changes in your scope of practice and responsibilities.
D30
You must ensure that your insurance cover continues if you:
  1. change insurers
  2. take a career break, or
  3. stop practising, since claims can be made many years after an event.
D31
You should choose your insurer after gaining a full understanding of the nature of the cover available and the difference between ‘claims made’ and ‘claims occurring’ insurance.
D32
In a ‘claims made’ insurance plan, your membership of the plan at the time the claim is made is what determines eligibility for cover. It works on the basis that all claims made while you are a member of a ‘claims made’ insurance plan are covered, even if the incidents which give rise to the claim occurred when you were not a member. So the claim must be made while you are a member of the plan. All incidents in your past are covered, even if they happened before you joined that insurance plan. When you leave a ‘claims made’ plan you should take out run-off cover from your previous insurer, or retrospective cover from your new insurer, to ensure that your insurance for past events continues. Your insurer can arrange that cover for you.
D33
In a ‘claims occurring’ insurance plan, your membership of the plan at the time of the incident which later gives rise to the claim is what determines eligibility for cover. It works on the basis that any event that occurs during the period for which you have bought cover will be insured, even if the claim arises in a period during which you are no longer a member of that plan. If, after you cease to be a member of a ‘claims occurring’ plan, a claim is made against you regarding an event that occurred while you were a member of the plan, then claims relating to that incident will be covered. If you move from a ‘claims made’ insurer to a ‘claims occurring’ insurer you need to make sure that you buy run-off cover from your previous insurer, or retrospective cover from your new insurer for the period you were in practice before joining the ‘claims occurring’ plan. Your insurer can arrange that cover for you.
D34
If you are a locum or work in more than one business, you should be fully acquainted with the extent and nature of the insurance policy or policies which cover your work for each business. If you rely on one employer’s insurance, you should be aware that one employer’s cover may not extend to another employer.

References

257 Opticians Act 1989 S10A

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