Optometrist who tried to claim funds for unauthorised sight tests erased from the register

A London-based optometrist tested the vision of more than 600 children through a ‘screening programme’ that was not approved by the NHS

GOC reception
The General Optical Council (GOC) has erased a London-based optometrist (GOC registration number 01-21154) from its register after he conducted more than 600 sight tests on children through a ‘vision screening programme’ that was not approved by the NHS.

A fitness to practise committee decision described how the optometrist offered to carry out what he described as a free “screening programme” at two different schools.

He carried out around 210 sight tests on children in June 2015 at one school, and 416 sight tests in July 2015 at another school that accepted his offer of free sight tests.

Parents were sent a consent form that described the sight tests as part of a “screening programme.”

The optometrist subsequently sought payment for 626 sight tests from NHS Shared Business Services (NHS SBS).

NHS SBS refused to make the payment after receiving advice from NHS England that it was under no contractual obligation to do so.

“The registrant now accepts that he carried out tests in these schools when he had not been authorised by the NHS to do so,” the fitness to practise committee noted in its decision.

Concerns were also raised regarding the quality of the sight tests provided to the school children.

“In particular it would not have been possible for him to conduct adequate sight tests in the limited period of time that he had afforded to each pupil,” the decision highlighted.

The decision noted that the parents of six children were sent outcome letters saying that their child’s vision was good and their eyes were healthy, when it had not been possible to measure visual acuity.

The decision also stated that, in 26 cases, the optometrist failed to make a referral when it was clinically indicated.

The GOC committee found that the optometrist’s fitness to practise was impaired by reason of misconduct.

The impairment related to carrying out sight tests unauthorised by the National Health Service and failing to carry out adequate sight tests and maintain adequate records.

The committee considered that “the Registrant’s misconduct was fundamentally incompatible with him remaining on the register.”