The remote hearing scheduled to start next week, with a precious ‘ticket' to attend, I was looking forward to eight days entertainment, and of course guaranteed press cover
Until the GOC notified me yesterday that the hearing has disappointingly been adjourned!
A private Procedural Hearing was held yesterday morning, with representatives from both parties, when the GOC Fitness to Practise Committee made the decision to allow Optical Express an adjournment.
The reason for the adjournment is not publicly available (and I promise I have no idea what it was) but I do accept that it was a valid one.
Dependent on all witnesses being available, the GOC intend to reschedule the hearing later this year.
And because this is a remote hearing, no-one need take time off work, arrange childcare, or travel to London, so I hope it won’t be too difficult.
But - should it have to be be put back to 2021, it may be that GOC FtP hearings will be held in situ by then, or that larger premises will have been found to enable social distancing. In which case media cover will also be possible.
I will of course update you when I have more information.
The Daily Mail really should know by now that an ophthalmologist is a surgeon (like Bobby Qureshi), regulated by the GMC (if we’re lucky), while the General Optical Council (GOC) regulate optometrists (opticians)!
Which reminds me, I wonder if OE gave John Margetts his job back when his twelve months suspension ended last year?
I’m guessing not, and have reason to believe that he was paid to keep quiet at the GOC Fitness to Practise hearing in 2017, not least because his representative didn’t say a word in his defence about the sales tactics employed by OE, and the pressure on optometrists to sell, sell, sell!
And one day I might be able to tell you about another optometrist who should have gone before a GOC tribunal for sexual assault, as alleged by a patient. But with his brother in a favoured position within a certain corrupt Scottish company, the victim was told it would be dealt with in-house.
So many stories yet to tell, and all of them true - eh Tweedles
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Somewhat belatedly I admit, in October 2014 I complained to the GOC (General Optical Council) about Swati Malkan, the Optimax optometrist who recommended me for lasek surgery in 2011
My submission to the GOC involved many weeks of hard work and lots of research, but in a nutshell I alleged that Ms Malkan failed to fully inform me and recommended me for treatment that was wholly unsuitable.
In fact she told me that I was suitable ONLY for lasek, yet on the day she was contradicted by Dr Wilbert Hoe, who asked me to choose lasek or lasik just minutes before my surgery!
I will never forget my panicked reaction, and sometimes question my sanity as to why I argued against my gut instinct screaming at me to walk away.
Seven years later, knowing so much more than I did then, I know that Dr Hoe was provably negligent by operating on a patient, obviously very stressed and anxious, who he knew had not been fully informed, by him or the optom Swati Malkan.
And I could add to this list of points of negligence simply by quoting from the GMC guidance on good medical practise. But thankfully Dr Wilbert Hoe is now retired and no longer registered with the GMC, so no point in my wasting my time.
The GOC Case Examiners' decision in December 2015 disappointingly determined that there was no realistic prospect of establishing that Ms Malkan’s fitness to practise was impaired, and so she didn’t even get a smacked hand.
I unsuccessfully appealled the decision.
But unfortunately for Swati Malkan, in January 2017 my second Subject Access Request (SAR) sent to Russell Ambrose (Optimax owner) disclosed an incredible amount of information that had been deliberately withheld under my first SAR in 2016.
This disclosure horrifyingly proved that I had been given unsuitable treatment, that Ms Malkan had not fully informed me, and shockingly, that Russell Ambrose unarguably knew this prior to our first meeting - on Friday 13 May 2011 - when he told me that I was, 'a rare case’!
Russell had no inkling of quite how rare I would turn out to be, unwilling to be bought by him or David Moulsdale at any price to stay quiet about this scandalous unregulated industry that repeatedly ruins eyes and lives to feed the greed of corrupt and psychopathic businessmen!
I contacted the GOC in March 2017 and they agreed to look at the new evidence and review the original decision.
Last week the GOC advised me that the Case Examiners had reached their decision and it would be sent to me as soon as the details had been checked. I didn’t hold my breath, too many disappointments over the years.
This afternoon I received their decision, and, as I think you may have guessed, it was great news!
As it’s not yet a matter of public record I won't go into detail, but the Case Examiners agreed that there is a public interest in reviewing the original decision not to refer Swati Malkan to the Fitness To Practise Committee.
They have directed that a full (stage two) review be carried out, and I sincerely hope that this will lead to a Fitness to Practise hearing, as with Optical Express optom John Margetts in August 2017. Not least because the entire MBE/OERML story began with Swati Malkan, and had she not recommended me for lasek then I wouldn’t be talking to you now.
And I urge every damaged patient to complain to the GOC about the optom who recommended you for surgery, and to the GMC about the surgeon, and to send an SAR to the clinic where you were damaged.
In my case at least, SARs can provide a lot of fun, as did the results of one that reached me today, filled with highly enlightening and entertaining information. And to the predicted dismay of a number of people, I will be publishing its content!
Meanwhile, some of you have been unable to post on OERML website forum for two weeks. This is because I hadn’t realised that the site was overdue for urgent technical updates, now being fixed, which is why I am thrusting out my begging bowl asking for contributions toward the costs.
It’s not only the websites that have to be paid for, and I thank the few people who understand this and have generously contributed to the endless work of MBE Foundation and OERML.
As little as £5-10 will be very much appreciated...
John Margetts' GOC registration has been suspended for twelve months!
I went straight from the hearing to BBC Westminster studios (bumped into a couple of faces you’ll recognise) and recorded an interview for Points West this evening - broadcast scheduled @ 6.30pm this evening. (Don’t worry about missing it because I will upload to YouTube later or tomorrow and post link)
It’s been a great week, during which I gathered a lot of information (passed on to lawyers representing my clients) and have sooooo much to tell you!
But not tonight, because I’ll be opening a bottle of champagne to celebrate
After reviewing the evidence and listening to witnesses in person, this afternoon the Fitness To Practise Committee upheld that John Margetts was, '4.b. Dishonest in that you knew that the information you provided to Patient A [BBC journalist] was incorrect’, the only one of the allegations he had denied.
However, the GOC process is more complex than a court hearing, and there were more stages yet to come...
The next was for the Committee to determine whether his fitness to practise was impaired, and, although I believed they could not reach any other conclusion, until I heard them say it I held my breath - not long enough for OE no doubt!
I think this photo - taken after the decision was announced late this afternoon - says it all!
Back tomorrow for both parties to give their submissions before the Committee decide whether or not John Markets will be struck off.
Again, I don’t believe they have any option, be it permanently or for a limited time, but we’ll find that out tomorrow.
The hearing is open to the public, so if you’re interested in coming along (wearing OERML T shirt!) contact me this evening for more info!
Following the BBC broadcast of their journalist's filmed consultation with Optical Express optometrist John Margetts, I made a complaint to the GOC, and he was suspended from 5 November 2015.
His Fitness to Practise hearing begins tomorrow - open to the public (and press)
'A substantive hearing will be held at The General Optical Council, 10 Old Bailey, London EC4M 7NG and will commence at 09:00 hrs on Tuesday 8 August 2017 to Friday 11 August 2017.
The Council alleges that in relation to you, Mr John Margetts, a registered optometrist, on a date unknown prior to 7 September 2015:
You failed to provide Patient A with sufficient information about the risks of laser eye surgery to enable him to make an informed decision;
You failed to provide Patient A with information about laser eye surgery in a clear and understandable manner;
You made the following comments to Patient A about laser eye surgery:
a. You stated that refractive eye surgery is "mandatory for the replacement of the Harrier F-35 ...and also for the Apache helicopter pilots and gunners", or words to that effect;
b. You stated that "it is 25 times more accurate than your glasses", or words to that effect;
c. You stated that the RAF "found that landing on aircraft carriers is 95% better trapping number two wire when you've been lasered because it enhances your peripheral sight", or words to that effect;
d. When questioned by Patient A about whether the RAF "do [refractive surgery] as standard", you stated that "you have to have it. If you are on big engine stuff, you're alright but the new visor systems that they use where you can see 40 miles away, the laser tracking systems that shine off your corneas mustn't have a parallax error, so you have to be lasered to match the visor, so it's now called a biometric enhancement", or words to that effect;
e. You stated that "that's what this organisation is. All systems they use, it's US Navy and NASA stuff, all of it", or words to that effect;
f. You stated that "you never get 20/20 vision. You get much, much, much, much better vision than that", or words to that effect;
You stated that "it sits back with intermolecular gravitational traction, which is twenty thousand times the power of superglue", or words to that effect;
You stated "the iDesign one is pure RAF and it's the big peripheral", or words to that effect;
i. You stated that "the iDesign one does this for twilight driving after two months because it realigns the molecular structure within the cornea itself which allows 10% more light to go through the cornea without being scattered", or words to that effect;
j. When questioned by Patient A about whether laser eye surgery is "100% safe", you responded, "yes";
4. The statements set out at 3(a)-(j) were :
a. Misleading in that the information you provided to Patient A was incorrect;
b. Dishonest in that you knew that the information you provided to Patient A was incorrect;
Since 2014 I have had more meetings and countless conversations with senior investigators at the General Optical Council (GOC), who expressed genuine concern over the way refractive eye surgery patients are being treated, unlike both the General Medical Council (GMC) and Royal College of Ophthalmologists (RCO) whose primary agenda is to support their fee paying surgeon members.
And the CQC aren’t even worth mentioning...
In 2015 I truly believed that the GOC might have the answer, to further regulate the behaviour of optoms in such ways as restricting them from working to meet sales targets for commissions and incentives. I believed this would cause the infrastructure of high street clinics to collapse, with no lies and pressure from optoms to pursuade patients to sign up for unnecessary and risky eye surgery.
Sadly these suggestions were vetoed and nothing changed.
My faith in the GOC was further eroded when my own complaint against Optimax optometrist Swati Malkan was closed in December 2015.
They wrote, 'This matter has been considered by a lay case examiner (someone who is not on the GOC’s register of optometrists and dispensing opticians) and by a registrant case examiner (a registered optometrist or dispensing optician)’.
And, 'The Case Examiners have carefully considered the evidence in this case and agree that there is no realistic prospect of finding that the Registrant’s fitness to practise is impaired to a degree that justifies action being taken against her registration. This case should be concluded with no further action.’
To avoid confusing you with the many pages of minutiae, quite simply Swati Malkan’s ‘defence’ was full of lies.
I then appealed the GOC decision, the case was looked at again, and closed again.
To the best of my knowledge, as with all GMC complaints made by damaged refractive eye surgery patients against ophthalmic surgeons, the GOC have similarly closed all complaints against optoms!
And when I registered my complaint against John Margetts in September 2015, the only reason the GOC suspended the Optical Express optom was because they had no choice, the BBC undercover filmed evidence was irrefutable.
Update re John Margetts, 'A hearing to review an interim suspension order made on 5 November 2015 in respect of the above registered optometrist will be made before the Fitness to Practise Committee of the General Optical Council at a private hearing and will commence at 13:00 hrs on Friday, 7 April 2017.'
Back to my complaint…
I sent a Subject Access Request (SAR) to Optimax in September 2015 and eventually (July 2016) I received 1,000s pages in response, including emails and screenshots of all my social media sites.
And if you recall my SARs to the RCO and David Moulsdale, following my unmerited removal from the Refractive Surgery Standards Working Group (RSSWG) in June 2015, these provided emails proving shocking collusion between the College and Moulsdale (see history).
However, it’s amazing how reluctant people are to disclose EVERYTHING when they’re legally obliged to do so, and I was aware that neither Optimax nor OE had given me all the info they had on me!
I particularly wanted a document Optimax sent to the GMC, that was heavily redacted by the GMC in response to my SAR to them last year, so I sent another SAR to Optimax.
This recently threw up another few thousand pages - I haven't actually counted, but the fun is knowing that it took Optimax staff a lot of time and effort to collate, then send all to the lawyers who were paid a lot of money to file, number and index the docs, and then courier to me!
I certainly haven’t had time to read everything, and my eyes are very painful at the moment, but quickly flicking through some of the top papers one email thread jumped out at me!
Dated 5 March 2011, two months before I first met Russell Ambrose after my surgery on 18 February, I was shocked to read a conversation between Pushpa Patel (Medical Compliance Officer) and Arif Sokwala (Head optom in Leicester), which had not previously been disclosed.
In response to Pushpa's question asking whether Swati Malkan should have discussed monovision with me, Arif wrote, ‘Most definitely - can’t believe it was not offered to her… The poor lady would lose all her near and intermediate vision [with procedure I was given] and top of that she is currently long-sighted so even worse up-close ’.
Wow! I don’t have words to describe how I felt reading this
Apart from the fact that I should not have had the surgery I did, Russell Ambrose knew this before he first met with me, and I have emails, letters, and recordings of our meetings, that prove my settlement agreement was based on lies!
And Arif is the only person who has ever shown any sympathy for what was done to me, or even admitted that it was the wrong procedure!
Had that info been given to me in 2011 I would have instructed a lawyer who would have jumped at the case, because this clearly proves negligence by all involved in recommending/providing my treatment - especially the surgeon!
Arif’s email confirms that Swati Malkan should not have recommended the procedure that she did, and supports my claim that she lied to the GOC.
On 9 March I therefore contacted the GOC with this new information and I am waiting to see how they will now deal with my complaint.
And, if Swati got it so wrong, then what does that say about Wilbert Hoe? Not that it will make any difference as he’s no longer practising, but I will be sending this new evidence to the GMC, because if a senior optom knew I should not have undergone the procedure then what excuse does a surgeon have for ruining my eyes?
Perhaps because he only spent a few minutes with me, sighing as he looked at his watch, with a packed waiting room of victims to attack, and more importantly he didn't want to lose his commission per eye!
Meanwhile, my 5th claim v Optimax/Russell Ambrose is listed at 10.00am on 16 May at Clerkenwell & Shoreditch County Court.
Ironically, the Defence, written by Russell's barrister Tim Walker, states that my claim for the cost to replace scratched lenses in my distance vision sunglasses, "arises from the Claimant’s own misfortune and/or mistreatment of her spectacle lenses.”
No mention of the misfortune of my mistreatment at Optimax that left me needing to wear sunglasses every day, be it sunshine or rain!
Bad enough that my eyes are irreparably damaged (and getting worse), but to have found out six years later that Russell Ambrose categorically knew that I was given an unsuitable operation while repeatedly lying to me in order to stop me pursuing court action is beyond words!
I believe Russell is guilty of misrepresentation at best, fraud at worst, and until I have taken advice from a contract lawyer I have no idea where I stand legally, but I know where he and his staff stand morally!
My recent meeting at the General Optical Council two days ago surpassed my expectations!
I provided them with a lot of information, including Optical Express documents illustrating the working practices demanded of their optometrists.
The GOC investigators were previously unaware of the pressure to meet targets, and the bonus payments and incentives given to optoms working in tandem with a “technician”, pushing people for surgery even when wholly unsuitable!
As some of the documents show quite clearly, the sales practices of OE optoms breach the "Code of Conduct” for individual GOC registrants, for example:
• Ensure that financial and commercial practices do not compromise patient safety
And I suggest McOptom himself (Stephen Hannan) should refresh his memory on these points:
• Recognise, and act within, the limits of your professional competence
• Be honest and trustworthy
Points from the the GOC "Code of Conduct for business registrants" - that's Optical Express/ DCM Holdings:
• Ensure that financial and commercial practices do not compromise patient safety
• Ensure that individual registrants are always able freely to exercise their professional judgement in the best interests of patients
• Not knowingly act in a way which might contribute to or cause a breach of the Code of Conduct for Individual Registrants by any individual registrant employed or otherwise engaged by it to provide optical services
We discussed simplifying the GOC complaints system (in progress), and when I explained how many individual complaints against optometrists the GOC could expect in the future as a result, an alternative option was suggested - one I wasn’t prepared for, or had known was possible!
I don’t want to give anything away yet, but the senior GOC investigator is reading the numerous and detailed documents relating to OE et al, and will then propose a way forward at our next meeting.
I have to say that I have more faith in the GOC than I have in the GMC - or any of the other bodies put together!
Hopefully we won’t be disappointed
To all OE whistleblowers: you’ve given me so much info over the last two years, and I welcome anything else you can offer which would be of interest to the GOC, especially bonus sheets and 'incentive' prizes.