The UK Federation of (Ophthalmic and Dispensing) Opticians (FODO) is calling for a mediation service to handle disputes over refractive surgery.
“In the rare case where trust breaks down, patients have little recourse other than to go to the regulators or to go to court,” said FODO Chief Executive David Hewlett.
The provision is included in draft standards for refractive surgery being devised by the UK Optical Confederation, a consortium of optical industry and professional associations that includes FODO.
The existing Optical Consumer Complaints Service already provides mediation between consumers and professionals in the United Kingdom regarding contact lenses and glasses, and its purview could be extended to refractive surgery, Hewlett suggested.
“It’s very cost effective,” he said.
The Optical Consumer Complaints service is run by the law firm, Nockolds Solicitors, and is funded by the UK General Optical Council, which regulate opticians, optometrists, and dispensing opticians.
It refrains from assisting in “claims involving allegations of negligence or where there are concerns about the practitioner’s fitness to practise,” offering referrals to solicitors in these types of complaint.
The draft standards of the Optical Confederation, “Multi-Disciplinary Professional Standards for Refractive Surgery Providers and Clinical Teams,” specifies that in instances where trust has broken down during refractive surgery, “providers should support the patient in accessing an appropriate independent dispute resolution service and, if requested by such a service, be willing to fund any reasonable, agreed costs of corrective surgery.”
The Optical Confederation is reviewing public comments on the proposed standards, having closed its consultation on 7th April.
“Depending on the outcome of our consultation, what we hope is to lobby the regulators in the UK to ask them to make complying with a mediation service a condition of the license of providing services,” Hewlett remarked.