On the 25th and 26th April 2022, a five person Fitness to Practise Committee (FtPC) at the General Optical Council (GOC) heard detailed evidence about a dispensing optician (Registrant) using a patient’s contact information (personal data) to send them text messages unconnected with their clinical care.
The Committee found a series of serious allegations against the Registrant. These allegations included; (i) that the Registrant used their position to serve their own interests, and (ii) that they had been sexually motivated by a wish to pursue a future sexual relationship with the patient.
In a further 2 day hearing on the 14th and 15th July, Dr Graydon representing the General Optical Council (GOC) persuaded the Committee that the registrant’s course of conduct constituted misconduct. He also went on to successfully argue that the Registrant’s practice was currently impaired. This was despite further evidence from the Registrant that that he had undertaken training in professional boundaries and engaged in self-reflection.
Dr Graydon submitted that the seriousness of the Registrant’s misconduct was such that a sanction of a 6 month suspension of registration was required. The Committee made this order.
The case is particularly noteworthy for at least three reasons. The first reason relates to the fundamental failure of the Registrant to maintain professional boundaries. The second is the Registrant’s motivation to pursue a future sexual relationship with the patient. Thirdly, the Registrant used the patient’s personal data (cell telephone number) to make his initial approach to the patient. In doing so, the Registrant used the personal data for a purpose that was completely unconnected with the reason that it had been provided to the registrant. Use of the patient’s personal data in this way triggers careful consideration of the GDPR 2018 and whether any claims arise against the Registrant or notification to the Information Commissioner's Office.
Alex Lawson of 33 Bedford Row represented the General Optical Council at the hearing in April 2022.
The Registrant was legally represented throughout the four-day hearing.
See feature in The Telegraph here.
See feature in The Times here.