Optometrists and Dispensing Opticians Board

March 2012 Newsletter

In this issue:

  • APC renewals and changes to Board fees
  • Chair and Deputy Chair Re-elected for 2012
  • Consultation on optometry scopes of practice
  • Consultation on possible revisions to Code of Ethics for Optometrists
  • Statement on Internet Medicine
  • Upcoming HPCAA Review
  • Information on possible move to health regulatory authority single shared secretariat
  • Information on the Board's self audit process
  • New appointment to Optometrist CPD Accreditation Committee


APC renewals and changes to Board fees

Yes, it's APC renewal time again already. Everyone with a current APC should have received their APC renewal form in the mail by now. If you haven't received yours, you can print a generic 'APC3' renewal form from the APC page of the Board's website located at www.odob.health.nz

In addition, those currently maintaining their registration but holding a non-practising status will have received correspondence about renewing their registration status as well. If you haven't received anything, please contact the Deputy Registrar, Chris McKeown, on 04 474 0704.

Thank you to those who have already completed and returned their applications as this will help ease the end of month processing pressure for Board staff.

Remember - your completed application and payment must be received by the Board by 31 March 2012 in order for you to practise on 1 April 2012. 

In December 2011, the Board consulted the professions and stakeholders on changes it proposed to make to Board fees for the practising year commencing 1 April 2012. Thank you to the few people who sent in submissions. Board fees have now been confirmed, published in the New Zealand Gazette, and came into force on 1 March 2012. You can view a copy of the fees gazette notice by clicking here.

Chair and Deputy Chair re-elected for 2012

The Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act 2003 (HPCAA) requires the Board, at the first meeting each year, to elect members to act as Chair and Deputy Chair for the year. The Board is pleased to announce that optometrist, Richard Lobb, was re-elected as Chair, and Board lay member, Ruth Spelman, was re-elected as Deputy Chair.

Consultation on optometry scopes of practice

In December 2011, the Board issued a consultation document on changes it proposes to make to the optometrist scopes of practice to ensure the workforce is able to meet the future vision care needs of the New Zealand public. Submissions for this consultation do not close until 10 April 2012 and the Board would encourage anyone with comments, even if only on some of the changes proposed, to submit them. All comments are welcome, positive or negative, and will be considered by the Board.

Click here to view the consultation document.  Submissions can be emailed to the Registrar at [email protected] or mailed to PO Box 10-140, The Terrace, Wellington 6143.

Consultation on possible revisions to Code of Ethics for Optometrists

In 2010 and 2011, the Board and the New Zealand Association of Optometrists (NZAO) worked on revising the Code of Ethics for optometrists. This document was approved by the NZAO in October 2011 and now applies to all NZAO members. The Board would now like to present this revised document to its professions and stakeholders for comment, before determining its position on whether the same Code of Ethics should apply to all optometrists registered with the Board.

Click here to view the revised NZAO Code of Ethics. Submissions are due by 26 April 2012 and can be emailed to the Registrar at [email protected] or mailed to PO Box 10-140, The Terrace, Wellington 6143.

Statement on Internet Medicine

In December 2011, the Board consulted the professions on a draft Statement on Internet Medicine it proposed to put in place. Submissions were due by 27 January 2012. The Board did not receive any submissions on this document and so has therefore confirmed the statement in its current form.

Click here to view the statement. Practitioners should familairise themselves with this document and ensure they are conducting themselves in accordance with it. If anyone has any questions about the statement, they should contact the Registrar on 04 474 0705 or send an email to [email protected].

Upcoming HPCAA Review

The Ministry of Health is currently commencing a review of the HPCAA, which will involve a review of the principals that underpin the legislation and the operation of the HPCAA itself. The review, which the Ministry intends to consult on widely, will provide you with an opportunity to have your say about the Act, should you wish to.

Once the Board receives its invitation to make submissions on the review, which will detail the submission deadline and where submissions should be sent, the Board will provide this information to the professions as well, so you know where to direct any submissions you may wish to make and by what date. 

Information on possible health regulatory authority single shared secretariat

The Board, along with the other 15 health regulatory authorities (RAs), is currently being asked by the Minister of Health to explore the benefits or otherwise of establishing a single shared secretariat to assist the collaboration and cost reduction initiatives of the government. While only approximately 4 percent of optometrists and dispensing opticians cost DHBs any money in terms of having their APCs paid for, the Board has been included in the Minister's request as the regulator of two of the currently registered professions.

The Board would like to assure all optometrists and dispensing opticians that the Board works hard to minimise costs where possible, in particular by already belonging to a small shared secretariat with two other RAs, and is also cognisant of the need to properly perform its functions as prescribed under the HPCAA. 

In considering the Minister's request, the Board will ensure that it undertakes due diligence with respect to its fiscal responsibilities, both to registrants and the public, by considering all options that may provide savings. The Board will keep you updated as RA enquiries into this matter progress. 

Information on the Board's self audit process

Each year, the Board randomly self audits up to 20 percent of optometrists and dispensing opticians, as well as any practitioner in CPD deficit. Most people receive a self audit with dread, but there has been the odd person out there who has asked when they will be audited, as they'd welcome feedback on their practice.

The purpose of the self audit is to fulfill the Board's legal responsibility under the HPCAA, to protect the health and safety of members of the public by providing for mechanisms to ensure that optometrists and dispensing opticians are competent and fit to practise their professions. Self audits provide the Board with information on how an optometrist or dispensing optician is practising and most self audits reassuringly show that best practice is achieved by members of both professions.

The Process - self audits are received by the Deputy Registrar and are then forwarded for screening to a Board Member of the practitioner's respective profession. On ocassion, the screener may ask another screener for a second opinion.

A decision is then made, which may be:

  1. Audit Pass - in which case the Deputy Registrar will inform the practitioner
  2. Further information is required - in which case the Deputy Registrar will send a written request to the practitioner for the additional information required. This usually comes about when the audit doesn't contain all of the information asked for in the audit document. One of the most frequent omissions for optometrists is a copy of the TPA prescription that forms part of the case history in the therapeutics portion of the audit. Sometimes it is because the patient records are unclear regarding the recording of clinical findings. For example, the examination record for internal eye findings uses only the word "PHOTO", which might mean that only a photo was taken and no direct and/or indirect ophthalmoscopy was performed by the optometrist. NB: Photography is not a substitute for a full clinical record of ocular examination findings.                           Please read the instructions carefully and check that the self audit is complete before returning it.
  3. The self audit appears to indicate a poor standard of practice - in which case the information is referred to the Board's Competence Review Committee for consideration. Self audits that fall into this category often show incomplete investigation or poor differential diagnosis in the cases that have been presented. Optometrists in particular have a wide range of diagnostic tools available within their scopes and it is the Board's expectation that their effective use should be demonstrated in the case studies.

While the self audit is an important tool in the Board's work and responsibilities, it is our hope that it also gives the practitioner an opportunity to reflect on their practice and consider where they are able to improve and develop their skills. 

New appointment to Optometrist CPD Accreditation Committee

In January 2012, the Board invited applications from optometrists via email for a newly vacant position on its Optometrist CPD Accreditation Committee. It is the role of this committee to accredit optometrist CPD activities and providers. The committee comprises two Board Members and two members of the profession. There is a separate CPD Accreditation Committee for dispensing opticians.

The Board is pleased to announce that the successful applicant appointed to the committee is optometrist, Adele Ralston.

The other current members of the committee are optometrist Board Members Damian Koppens and Andrew Black, and non-Board Member optometrist Joanna Black.


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

Keep Informed

Subscribe to our e-newsletter