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Optom numbers increase, but students down nearly 10%

22/11/2017By Matthew Woodley
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The number of registered optometrists in Australia has increased by 3.9% over the past 12 months and reached 5,343, according to the Annual Report for AHPRA and the National Boards.

The report, which tracked data for the year ending 30 June 2017, also reported there were 1,516 registered optometry students in this time, a drop of 8.2% compared with the previous year. Meanwhile, the statistics also indicated only 13 optometrists nationally were Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander – equivalent to 0.3%.

Overall, optometrists accounted for just 0.8% of all health practitioners in the National Accreditation and Registration Scheme, which encompasses nearly 680,000 registrants across 14 different professions.

Chair of the Optometry Board of Australia Mr Ian Bluntish said its primary objective was to ensure that only suitably qualified and competent practitioners were registered, while it also engaged with professional bodies, practitioners and the public both nationally and internationally.



"Gaining insights from other boards, and offering our own insights has been particularly beneficial when consulting on the review of the registration standards and guidelines for continuing professional development.”
Ian Bluntish, OBA chair

“The past year has seen the board support cross-profession collaboration with other health-practitioner National Boards within the National Scheme. Gaining insights from other boards, and offering our own insights has been particularly beneficial when consulting on the review of the registration standards and guidelines for continuing professional development,” he said.

“The Board also presented to optometrists at a ‘Future of Optometry’ event hosted by Optometry NSW/ACT to raise awareness of the different roles of the Board and Optometry Australia. We also educated individual optometrists on how they can play a role in shaping the future of eyecare in Australia.”

AHPRA received 33 notifications for complaints and concerns regarding optometrists in the past 12 months, which equated to 1.1% of the profession. Of the 27 matters closed about optometrists in this period, 22.2% resulted in the board accepting an undertaking or conditions being imposed on an optometrist’s registration; 18.5% resulted in a caution or reprimand, and 55.6% resulted in no further action being taken.

Additionally, there were 23 statutory offence complaints made about optometrists in 2016/17 – up from nine in 2015/16. However, the vast majority (22) concerned advertising breaches, while one related to use of a protected title.

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Immediate action was taken once during the year to suspend or cancel an optometrist’s registration while a matter was investigated, while one mandatory notification, related to standards of care, was made about an optometrist.

More information: AHPRA Annual Report.

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