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Before the GOC in 2022

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

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Below OT presents a summary of General Optical Council fitness to practise decisions published over the last six months.

For GOC matters, patient complaints and NHS investigations, AOP members can contact: [email protected]

The AOP Peer Support Line is a confidential, free-phone helpline (0800 870 8401) for members and non-members at any stage of their optical career to call and discuss their problems with a trained, empathetic peer who recognises the pressures of optical practice.


June

Perth-based optometrist, Mary Docherty (GOC registration 01-14899), has been suspended from the register for a period of 12-months.

The optical regulator found that Docherty was responsible for a series of clinical failings over a period of several years.

The GOC determined her fitness to practise was impaired by reason of misconduct, deficient professional performance and in the wider public interest.

A fitness to practise determination noted that Docherty had retired from practice as an optometrist and had no intention of renewing her GOC registration.

The committee highlighted that Docherty’s clinical failings were wide-ranging in nature and related to core skills that are fundamental to safe and effective practice as an optometrist.

The determination concluded that her behaviour fell “far short” of the standards expected of her for a significant period of time and was sufficiently serious to be characterised as misconduct.

Docherty had no previous fitness to practise history and displayed insight by admitting the allegations.

She had apologised and expressed remorse for her acts and omissions, however the committee found that there was limited evidence that Docherty appreciated the significance of her personal failings.

May

Falsifying patient records has resulted in a Stourbridge-based student optometrist being suspended from the GOC register.

A fitness to practise committee found that Zarcur Dard’s (GOC registration SO-10581) fitness to undertake training was impaired due to misconduct.

In 2018, Dard notified the GOC that he had falsified patient records while preparing for his pre-registration Stage 1 assessment.

The committee found that Dard’s fitness to train was impaired on public interest grounds alone, noting that protection of the public was not an issue as Dard would be supervised as a pre-registration optometrist and repetition of the conduct was unlikely.

Dard received a seven-month suspension from the register.

“In reaching its findings, the committee took full account of the registrant’s reflective statement and his evidence of steps to remedy his conduct,” the committee highlighted.

“The committee noted the registrant’s candid responses when he was invited by his counsel to deal directly with issues raised by the committee. It was satisfied that the registrant understood the seriousness of his misconduct and the possible risk to patients which might have resulted,” the decision stated.

March

A Birmingham-based student optometrist has been suspended from the register for nine months.

A fitness to practise committee decision described how Shahid Sujawal (GOC registration SO-10910) falsified several patient records for the purpose of his Stage 1 and Stage 2 assessments.

Sujawal referred himself to the GOC but was not completely open about the extent of amendments he made to records.

In mitigation, the committee noted that Sujawal was undergoing difficult personal circumstances at the time the amendments were made and the behaviour occurred during an early point in his career.

The GOC received a number of testimonials regarding Sujawal’s good character. He has undertaken continuing professional development since the concerns arose.

The committee determined that Sujawal’s fitness to undertake training was impaired by reason of misconduct. He received a nine-month suspension from the register.

“In light of the mitigating factors identified, including his significant insight and journey since the allegation, the committee formed the view that erasure from the register was not the only means of protecting the public and maintaining public confidence in the
profession,” the committee highlighted.

January

An optometrist who amended a patient’s record to ‘cover up’ clinical errors received a six-month suspension order.

Chigwell-based optometrist, Angelina Bhopal (GOC registration 01-29224), failed to make an appropriate diagnosis during a minor eye conditions services examination.

She later amended the record of the patient’s test to justify her actions, failing to record that the changes were made retrospectively.

In mitigation, the fitness to practise committee considered Bhopal’s previous good character, positive testimonials and the fact that the dishonest behaviour was a one-off incident.

The alteration of the patient’s record had not adversely affected their care following the initial examination.

The committee found that Bhopal’s fitness to practise was impaired on grounds of public interest and public protection, by reason of dishonesty.

“Whilst the committee had concluded that the registrant’s level of insight was limited, it had also concluded that the risk that she would act dishonestly again was low,” the decision stated.

Bhopal received a six-month suspension order, with a review hearing prior to the expiration of the order.


The GOC learning bulletin, FtP Focus, also provides details on the types of concerns the optical regulator receives and how it assesses them during an investigation. If you have suggestions for future topics to cover, contact the GOC by email.

OT only includes cases that the GOC has deemed to be of public interest within this synopsis. In line with policy, case summaries will be removed from the OT website after six months.

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