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Before the GOC in 2021

An at-a-glance summary of recent fitness to practise decisions published by the optical regulator

GOC branding

Below OT presents a summary of General Optical Council fitness to practise decisions published in 2021.

February

London-based student optometrist, Lukshana Jeyaruban, (GOC registration SO-10760) has been suspended from the GOC register for a period of six months.

The sanction related to her submission of a dissertation in the knowledge that it had been drafted by another person.

A fitness to practise committee highlighted that her conduct was dishonest and amounted to plagiarism.

However, Ms Jeyaruban had begun to develop insight into her conduct, there was no repetition of the behaviour and there was evidence that she was a previously good student.

The committee concluded that “a period of suspension was the appropriate and proportionate sanction and would satisfy the public interest.”


The GOC has erased dispensing optician Timothy Vanes (GOC registration D-3421) from its register.

The regulator determined that the Shropshire practitioner’s fitness to practise was impaired on the grounds of public protection and public interest.

The decision follows Mr Vane’s conviction for making indecent images of a child and possessing extreme pornographic images of a person performing an act of intercourse with a live or dead unknown animal.

After police received information linking Mr Vane’s business address to child pornography, a search warrant was executed and computer equipment was seized in May 2018.

In March 2020, Mr Vane was sentenced to a 24-month community order and required to undertake 100 hours of unpaid community work as well as 35 days of rehabilitation activity.

The fitness to practise committee determined that the only appropriate sanction to protect patients and the public interest was erasure, noting that Mr Vane had not engaged in the regulatory process.

The events that gave rise to the convictions took place between 2008 and 2017, and involved more than 6000 images.

“This was not a single incidence of misconduct… The Committee were not satisfied that the registrant had any insight, beyond what was said at the time of sentencing, to persuade it that there was sufficient insight that suspension was appropriate,” the committee highlighted.


January

Optometrist, Rajendra Chopra, (GOC registration 01-17917) has been sanctioned by the GOC after failing to carry out an adequate sight test and make an appropriate referral.

A patient presented at Mr Chopra’s practice complaining of black floaters and black dots that affected the vision in her left eye in August 2017.

After being issued with a prescription, the patient’s symptoms continued and she visited the practice again in September 2017.

Mr Chopra did not conduct an eye examination but referred the patient to her GP, who arranged for her to be seen in secondary care.

After an appointment at an ophthalmology clinic in October 2017 the patient was diagnosed with a macular off retinal detachment and had surgery the following week.

Mr Chopra altered clinical records for the patient’s appointments in August and September. He stated that a sight test had occurred on the second appointment when it had not.

The optical regulator found that his actions were inappropriate, misleading and dishonest.

The GOC fitness to practise decision highlighted that Mr Chopra demonstrated “very limited” insight in respect of his clinical failings.

“It was not clear that he accepted his failing in not having carried out a dilated examination of Patient A’s eyes on the first appointment. Nor had he presented
any persuasive evidence of attempts to address the shortcomings in his professional knowledge,” the committee noted.

The Liverpool-based practitioner was erased from the GOC register.


Sarah Morris (GOC registration D-16786), a dispensing optician based in Birmingham, has been suspended from the GOC register for 12 months.

Her suspension related to the processing of false refund transactions on several occasions.

Between 29 May 2018 and 20 June 2019, Ms Morris credited seven false refund transactions to her personal bank card and her husband’s bank card.

A fitness to practise committee decision highlighted that Ms Morris had “begun a journey towards remediation and is developing insight.”

While there was some risk of repetition, it was “not substantial.”

“In all the circumstances the committee decided that a 12-month suspension order was necessary and appropriate to protect the public, to mark the seriousness of the conduct, to protect the reputation of the profession, to maintain public confidence and to declare and uphold proper standards,” the decision highlighted.


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