Professional standards and guidelines


Professional organisations, NHS and private healthcare employers, government and the public all have a stake in the setting and maintaining standards for practice in healthcare. This page has information from a number of sources about standards and guidelines for practice in the ophthalmic sector.


AHPO seeks to promote the development common standards of practice in areas of interprofessional working. As part of our work with Modernising Scientific Careers we have developed 14 National Occupational Standards that are the basis of assessment of competence for our training programmes.


Apprenticeship Standard in Health Care Science Associate (Level 4)


Improving  Quality In Physiological Service (IQIPS) is a professionally-led programme whose aim is to improve service quality, care and safety for patients undergoing physiological diagnostics and treatment. AHPO is working with IQIPS to develop standards for Ophthalmic and Vision Science services.


The Royal College of Ophthalmologists has clinical guidelines, ophthalmic services guidance, and information and advice for the general public.


Clinical guidelines

Information and advice for the general public


The American Academy of Ophthalmology has Preferred Practice Pattern Guidelines The Summary Benchmarks are a useful quick reference for the full Guidelines


The College of Optometrists has clinical guidelines


The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) is responsible for developing national guidance, standards and information on providing high-quality health and social care, and preventing and treating ill health. NICE guidance for the treatment and management of eye conditions.




Regulation of healthcare professionals. Ophthalmologists, nurses, orthoptists, healthcare scientists, optometrists and dispensing opticians have statutory registration, that is by law they must be registered with a regulatory body that has powers to discipline them and, if necessary, remove them from the register. Links to the regulatory bodies are listed here:


Ophthalmologists              General Medical Council

Nurses                                   Nursing and Midwifery Council

Orthoptists                          Health and Care Professions Council

Healthcare scientists        Health and Care Professions Council

Optometrists                       General Optical Council

Dispensing opticians         General Optical Council


Ophthalmic healthcare science practitioners do not have statutory registration but can join an accredited voluntary register held by the Academy for Healthcare Science (AHCS), see Voluntary registration of ophthalmic associate and assistant practitioners is under consideration.


The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is responsible for regulating all medicines and medical devices in the UK as well as blood and therapeutic products/services that are derived from tissue engineering.  The MHRA has the power to withdraw a product from the market, and in the case of medicines, to suspend production. It can also prosecute a manufacturer or distributor if the law has been broken. See


Regulation of healthcare providers. The four UK countries have regulatory bodies that are responsible for the registration and inspection of institutions providing healthcare and have the power to impose sanctions, up to and including termination of registration. Links to the regulatory bodies of the four UK countries can be found here:


England:                                Care Quality Commission

Scotland:                               Care Inspectorate Scotland

Wales:                                    Healthcare Inspectorate Wales

Northern Ireland:                Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority


Patient contribution to healthcare services


Patient views on healthcare delivery


There are organisations in the four UK countries that represent patient views on the delivery of healthcare.



Healthwatch England is the new, independent consumer champion for health and social care in England.



The Community Health Councils help ensure that patient views and needs influence the policies and plans put in place by health providers.



The Scottish Health Council is responsible for ensuring NHS Boards take account of patient views when they make decisions about health services in Scotland. The Council has established offices in each NHS Board area.


Northern Ireland

The Patient Client Council is the independent voice on health and social care issues.


Patient advocacy and advice

Action Against Medical Accidents

NHS Choices (Advice)

NHS Choices (Complaints)

Patients Association



Healthwatch England

Health Service Ombudsman

National Association of Citizens Advice Bureau


Northern Ireland

• Northern Ireland Ombudsman

Patient Client Council



Citizens Advice Scotland

Scottish Health Council

Scotland Patients Association

Scottish Public Service Ombudsman



Community Health Council

Public Services Ombudsman for Wales