New figures show 57 optometrists were the subject of complaints during the past year, as the Optometry Board of Australia (OBA) provided an update on a new standard in ocular therapeutics programs and the latest personnel movements on the board.
The information is contained in Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (Ahpra) and National Boards 2022/23 Annual Report released on 9 November 2023, which confirmed a continued rise in the number of registered optometrists – now 6,762 (up 0.4% on the year prior).
Of those, 57 optometrists were the subject of 63 notifications (complaints), including data from the NSW Health Professional Councils Authority and Queensland’s Office of the Health Ombudsman (OHO).
This is slightly down on the 68 complaints against 61 optometrists in the 2021/22 report, but still higher than 2020/21 when 44 optometrists had complaints made against them.
The most common source of complaints were patients, relatives or members of the public (77.8%), followed by government departments (11.1%), other practitioners (7.4%), and health complaints entities (3.7%).
Issues over clinical care were by far the most common type of complaint at 59.3%, with breach of non-offence provision (7.4%), confidentiality (3.7%), documentation (3.7%), medication (3.7%), and other (22.2%) making up the remainder.
Focus on cultural safety
In other news, OBA confirmed it had approved the Optometry Council of Australia and New Zealand’s (OCANZ) revised standards for the accreditation of board-approved programs of study in ocular therapeutics.
“These standards will come into effect in 2024 and include greater emphasis on the integration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural safety into ocular therapeutics programs,” the body stated.
During the past year, the OBA also farewelled Associate Professor Ann Webber, the practitioner member for Queensland, as well as previous chair and practitioner member for NSW, Mrs Judith Hannan (Irvine).
Subsequently, Professor Sharon Bentley was appointed the new practitioner member for Queensland. Following Hannan’s departure, Mr Stuart Aamodt became presiding member, a position that will be in place until the health ministers appoint a new chair.