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OPT013: Legal Aspects of UK Optometry

This module aims to provide eye care professionals with a comprehensive review of the legal and regulatory obligations in optometric practice in the UK.

The module content is presented in a format that is commensurate with everyday practice – much of it is based on realistic situations that the practitioner will recognise and empathise with. This should be particularly useful to those engaged in commissioning or enhanced services provision, or to practitioners returning to work after a career break.

This module complements OPT016, OPT018, OPT019 and OPT021. It is also a compulsory module for the Postgraduate Certificate in Eye Care Governance.

Start dateSeptember
Duration22 contact hours over one academic term
Credits10 credits
Module tutorsTrevor Warburton
Peter Hampson
Module codeOPT013

Learning objectives

To acquire knowledge and understanding at an advanced level about:
  • where the law in the United Kingdom comes from
  • the principles of ethics in optometric practice and healthcare generally
  • the legal requirements for registration
  • the legal issues surrounding contracts, appointments and sales
  • the role of the NHS contracts in modern optometric practice
  • the legal background to keeping records and record-keeping
  • your legal responsibilities in and outside of the consulting room
  • negligence and misadventure
  • other general laws that affect you in business (eg Equality Act 2010)
  • rules regarding referral and advice given; the role of delegated tasks
  • legalities surrounding spectacle and contact lens dispensing.
To apply this knowledge to clinical situations encountered in practice and demonstrate how you would evaluate and manage issues such as::
  • an accusation of professional negligence
  • a patient unhappy with their spectacles
  • knowledge of illegal sales of contact lenses
  • managing a complaint.

How the module will be delivered

This module is taught via a series of lectures (Powerpoint with audio), delivered via Learning Central, the University’s e-learning system, with supporting resources and references supplied. There is an introductory webinar, and a further session of guided online learning.

Unmarked formative MCQs are provided to self-check learning.

Students will consider typical legal or ethical dilemmas in UK practice and will discuss these online and in a Webinar. This will be in advance of the final assignment and will provide a grounding for the analysis of the case.

How the module will be assessed

Written summative coursework (100%): Students will be presented with scenarios that represent typical legal or ethical dilemmas in UK practice. They will research these and will submit an essay of up to 2000 words online towards the end of the course.

Syllabus content

  • The British legal system
  • Registration with the professional bodies and the need for professional indemnity cover
  • The NHS and optometry
  • Legislation in the practice for employers and employees
  • Contracts in optometry
  • Data Protection Act and Confidentiality
  • Record keeping
  • Patient complaint procedures
  • Negligence and misadventure
  • The General Optical Council (GOC)
  • Code of Conduct
  • European legislation in relation to optometry
  • Making referrals
  • Giving advice to patients
  • Regulations surrounding the eye examination and recent changes to the legislation
  • Fitting, care, sale and supply of contact lenses
  • Legal issues around the supply of spectacles

Skills that will be practised and developed

Academic skills

  • Reviewing information resources
  • Collate information from a number of resources to improve learning

Subject-specific skills

  • The ability to see relevance of legislation to a given case
  • Practice ethically and within the law
  • Improving patient welfare
  • Appropriate referral pathways
  • How to deal with complaints

Generic skills

  • Searching for relevant information
  • Time management
  • Working independently
  • Problem solving
  • Dealing with ethical dilemmas
  • Co-operating with fellow professionals


Postgraduate team

School of Optometry and Vision Sciences