Optometrist Honey Rose receives nine month suspension order

A practitioner whose gross negligence manslaughter conviction was quashed in 2017 has been suspended by the General Optical Council

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An optometrist whose gross negligence manslaughter conviction was overturned has received a nine-month suspension order from the General Optical Council (GOC).

The fitness to practise case ran over 34 days in July and November, with the hearing conducted by video link due to social distancing restrictions because of the pandemic.

The committee’s decision on Thursday (12 November) is a significant milestone in the proceedings against Ms Rose, who has not practised as an optometrist for seven years.

The hearing related to the provision of eye care by Ms Rose to two children, Patient A and Patient B, at the Upper Brook Street branch of Boots Opticians in Ipswich.

Patient A received a sight test conducted by Ms Rose in February 2012 and died from swelling of the brain on 13 July 2012.

The fitness to practise committee determined that Ms Rose failed to carry out an adequate internal eye examination on Patient A and viewed the wrong retinal image. There were also associated record keeping failures.

The committee concluded that Ms Rose’s acts and omissions amounted to misconduct.

On the question of impairment, the committee found that Ms Rose had remedied the specific clinical failings identified and she was fit to practise “from a personal perspective.”

However, the committee found that the registrant’s fitness to practise was impaired on public interest grounds.

Speaking at the hearing on Thursday, chair Graham White highlighted that the committee did not consider the departure from the relevant professional standards to be sufficiently serious to warrant erasure from the register.

“Erasure is a sanction of last resort and should be reserved for the category of cases where there is no other means of preserving the wider public interest,” he said.

Mitigating factors taken into account by the committee included that the registrant’s failings were “spontaneous and momentary” and Ms Rose had demonstrated a commitment to returning to practise by keeping her knowledge and skills up to date.

Mr White highlighted the committee’s view that within the context of her professional career, Ms Rose’s failings were an isolated event.

The committee determined that there was no ongoing risk to public safety.

AOP legal director, Ella Franci, told OT: “It has been a long and difficult process for our member, Ms Rose, but ultimately we feel that it is a good result for her and the AOP’s legal team. Ms Rose’s account of what happened was accepted, and she was found to have sufficiently remedied any past misconduct identified by the FTP Committee. Although disappointed to remain suspended for nine months, Ms Rose is looking forward to returning to the profession she loves, with the ongoing support of the AOP.”

Ms Franci continued: “This is a tragic case which has been devastating for all concerned and our deepest sympathies go to the patient’s family for their loss.”