Optometrists and Dispensing Opticians Board

August 2010 - Newsletter to optometrists and dispensing opticians


Chair’s foreword

This newsletter announces the launch of our new website www.odob.health.nz.  We are grateful to the Ministry of Health for providing us with free access to a .health.nz domain.  Our main reason for developing the new website is to help our stakeholders find the information they need more easily, so we encourage you to look around it and familiarise yourself with the resources and information available.  If you have suggestions for improvement of the website, feel free to contact our staff.

One of the Board’s key tasks is to issue annual practising certificates.  I am disappointed to note that a number of registered practitioners took a casual approach to their obligations under the Act to ensure that they renew their practising certificates on time.

It is illegal to practise without a practising certificate, and can lead to disciplinary action and/or prosecution, with a fine upon conviction of up to $10,000. Even if your employer is paying your fees, it is your responsibility to ensure that your APC renewal is sent to the Board on time, as it is you who faces penalty should you practise without a practising certificate.

Under section 140 of the Act you also need to ensure that you promptly update the Board – in writing - if you change addresses.  We may write to you at any time of the year to your last known postal address.  If you miss out on important information (including your APC renewal forms) because you have not advised us of a change of address, you will be responsible for any consequences.

If you are not sure of your legal obligations as a registered practitioner, please have a look at our website, or talk to our staff.

John McLennan


Consultation: draft CPD recertification programme - optometrists

The CPD recertification programme for dispensing opticians began on 1 April 2010.  Dispensing opticians have until 30 November 2011 to obtain 20 CPD credits.The Board has been working on the CPD accreditation policy for optometrists, which will form a key part of the CPD recertification programme for optometrists.  As several changes have been made since these policies were last consulted, the Board has decided to re-consult.  Key changes are:

  • a proposal that all optometrists are required to obtain 20 general credits and 20 clinical diagnostic credits over a two year period
  • the introduction of credits for peer review activities, and a higher credit allocation for optometrists who present a case at peer review activities.

To review the revised policies and to find out how to make submissions, click here.

Standards of Clinical Competence for Optometrists

The Board would like to thank all who made submissions with regard to the draft revised Standards of Clinical Competence for Optometrists.  The document is being finalised, and is due to be released later in the year.  We will advise optometrists when the new Standards come into effect.

DPA recertification programme

The five year DPA recertification programme came to an end on 31 March 2010, and the Board was very pleased that most optometrists needing to meet requirements did so in time.    There were seven practising optometrists who had not met requirements by the due date.  Their registration was suspended and the Board declined to issue them with practising certificates.  By the end of July, five of the seven had met requirements and were authorised to return to practice.  

The Board is currently dealing with a number of optometrists who were not practising at the time the programme came to an end.  In these cases, it is likely that the Board will propose to include conditions in their scope of practice prohibiting them from practising until they have met requirements.


Patient privacy concerns

Board staff often field queries from members of the public about how to deal with an issue they may have with their optometrist or dispensing optician.  These are often low-level concerns where the person feels something has not gone well, but does not wish to escalate the matter through formal channels.  One such case, which all practitioners may wish to take note of, is a recent concern raised about the protection of patient information. In the case in question, a member of the public asked Board staff for advice on how to raise his concern that an optometry practice had disclosed his personal information over the phone to his partner. 

While he did not mind that his partner had this information he was concerned that it was so easy for somebody else to obtain his personal information, and wanted to make sure it wouldn’t happen again. Given his wish to communicate his concerns without laying a formal complaint with the Privacy Commissioner, staff suggested he raise his concern with his optometrist or the practice owner, and perhaps ask that it be brought up as a training issue at a staff meeting.  He was happy with this suggestion.  You may wish to use this case as a reminder to yourself and to colleagues in your practice about the importance of patient privacy, including ensuring that the patient has been appropriately identified before they are given their personal information from your files.

Changes in Australian legislation

The Optometry Board of Australia came into being on 1 July 2010 with the introduction of national legislation for certain health practitioners.  The new national board replaces the various state optometry boards.  The new legislation also deregulated optical dispensing in Australia.   Optometrists registered in Australia (and vice versa) can still apply for registration here via the Trans Tasman Mutual Recognition Act.

Board membership

The Board is currently awaiting advice from the Ministry of Health with regard to appointment of Board members.  Five current Board members’ terms expire before November.  We look forward to the Minister of Health’s decision about Board appointments.   Keep an eye on the latest news page of our website for an update.

ACOT qualification prescribed

Good news for overseas trained optometrists!  At its meeting on 11 June, following consultation, the Board resolved to prescribe the Assessment of Competence in Ocular Therapeutics (ACOT) administered by the Optometry Council of Australia and New Zealand (OCANZ) as a qualification for registration in the Optometrist (therapeutic endorsement) scope of practice.  The ACOT is a pathway for appropriately qualified overseas trained optometrists to register in this scope of practice without having to retrain.  For more information or to apply, contact OCANZ www.ocanz.org.

Review of Standards of Ethical Conduct

The Board is about to start work with each of the professional associations on reviewing the current Standards of Ethical Conduct, which have not been reviewed since the Act came into force in September 2004.  If any changes are recommended as a result of the review, we will consult with the professions.

HDC open disclosure policy

The Health and Disability Commissioner has recently updated its guidance on open disclosure.  Open disclosure is about advising patients when an adverse event occurs that may affect the patient. It includes:

  • acknowledgement of the incident
  • an explanation of what happened, how it happened and why it happened
  • where appropriate, advice on what changes have been made to prevent it happening again
  • a sincere apology.

To read the HDC’s policy, click here.

Optometrists self-limiting scope of practice

The Board is aware of a number of optometrists who choose to work in environments where they are not utilising the full range of competencies in their scope of practice.  Some of these practitioners have completed self audits and the Board has generally acknowledged that they are practising competently within the range of tasks they are performing. However the Board is concerned that these practitioners may want to return to broader practice at some future point without having recently utilised core skills.  

The Board is considering various options for dealing with such situations, and seeks your views.  Options include:

  • including conditions in the practitioner’s scope of practice (for example, requiring them to work under supervision should they change employment, or to undertake ongoing CPD in the areas of work they are not currently performing)
  • relying on the individual to meet ethical obligations to practise within their competence and to recognise the need to upskill prior to resuming a wider range of tasks
  • creating a new scope of practice for practitioners working in a supervised environment.

Please feel free to email the Registrar if you have views on any of the above options, or if you have alternative suggestions.

GST increase 1 October

On 1 October 2010 GST will increase from 12.5 to 15%.  Current fees set by the Board are inclusive of GST and the Board will be passing on the increase for all services provided (including registration and APC applications) on or after 1 October.  The increase in fees will be gazetted shortly, and the new fees effective from 1 October will be posted on the Board’s website.


Self audit

Most registered practitioners should be aware of the self audit process and the possibility that the Board might ask you to complete an audit at any time. Please cooperate by answering all questions fully and providing all of the information requested.   When information is missing the process is slowed which causes frustration for the practitioner. As you will be required to provide evidence of competency in the form of referral letters and ophthalmologist replies (for optometrists),  or spectacle records ( for DOs) we suggest that locums retain a portfolio of their work (including copies of relevant records, referral letters to ophthalmologists, and their responses) in anticipation of an audit, as it is often difficult to obtain the information at a later date.


Contact Us

Optometrists and Dispensing Opticians Board

Level 5, 22 Willeston Street,
Wellington 6011
PO Box 9644, Wellington 6141
Tel: +64 4 474 0705, Fax +64 4 474 0709

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