Nockolds Solicitors has been retained as the chosen provider of the Optical Consumer Complaints Service (OCCS) following a competitive tender process.
The Hertfordshire-based firm has provided the mediation service to resolve consumer complaints in the optical sector since 2014. It has been awarded a new three-year contract with an optional one-year extension thanks to Nockolds’ unrivalled experience in the optical sector and its outstanding track record in complaint resolution.
Last year, Nockolds enabled the OCCS to successfully resolve 88% of consumer complaints via mediation. The General Optical Council, which funds the OCCS, says that this proven model of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) is contributing to increased patient satisfaction, lower costs per complaint and, crucially, a reduction in cases being referred to Fitness to Practise (FtP) proceedings.
Dionne Spence, Director of Casework and Resolutions at the General Optical Council, said: ‘Nockolds has been instrumental in the success of the OCCS over the past five years and their understanding of the optical sector is second to none. They bring unique expertise and passion to the service and we have seen first-hand how mediation has been highly beneficial for our sector. The OCCS mediation service has been especially effective in supporting the transformation of FtP and we look forward to continuing this successful partnership over the coming years.’
The OCCS is independent and helps a solution to be found if a consumer and optician cannot resolve the issues themselves.
Nockolds’ ADR Team is headed up by Partner, Jennie Jones, who has more than 20 years’ experience in personal injury, medical negligence and dispute resolution in a regulatory setting. Since 2016 she has also headed up the Veterinary Client Mediation Service funded by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons.
Jennie Jones said: ‘We are thrilled to be continuing this successful partnership. We’re looking forward to building upon our tried and tested work to date as well as implementing new plans and working even more closely with the optical sector to bring our learnings into practice.
‘We’re particularly excited to work with universities and the next generation of opticians to equip them with skills to prevent and handle patient complaints as part of a new curriculum.
‘We have been advocates of mediation for many years and now government is recognising its benefits too, having recently recommended the approach in a health regulation policy whitepaper. The OCCS has experienced the benefits first-hand and will continue to be a shining example of what can be achieved by other health regulators.’
Nockolds has more 100 years’ combined experience in the optical sector. Also on the team are clinical consultants Richard Edwards and Sue Clark along with Resolution Managers, Dawn Slocombe, Kayleigh Turnbull and Mediation Manager Toni Taylor.
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