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.
These optoms have very little clinical exposure and experience - or maybe it's just a total disregard for patient care.
They should not be advising any customers on laser treatments especially if they're not able to detect eye diseases by their lack of focus to carry out correct screening examinations, which also demonstrates poor performance and provides a valid cause to bring this to the attention of the GOC.
A good link. I put in the Optom who totally dismissed my existing dry eye problem which resulted in me giving up the wearing contact lenses, whom actually mentioned the same on my medical records, also stating that the Liverpool One OE branch treats at least four patients per month with "lazy eye syndrome" (which I now find hard to believe) and came up with this;
Giles Alexander Turner
Registration status: Help
Date of most recent registration:Help
MSc BSc MCOptom
Fitness to practise
Unit 69, 15 South John St
Go to this link, which provides information about the 'optom's' who are registered and how to lodge a complaint due to poor practice.
How to make a complaint
Complaints about registrants
If you want to make a complaint about a registrant’s fitness to practise, more information is available in our booklet, 'How to complain about an optician'.
How to complain about an optician
This booklet is available to download:
How to complain about an optician
To receive a paper copy of this booklet, contact our Fitness to practise team .
To make a complaint about a registrant, the first step is to fill in the 'investigation form', and the 'obtaining copies of optical records' form.
Investigation form and obtaining copies of optical records form
When completing the investigation form you need to provide details to enable us to gather evidence about your complaint. The details we need include information about any relevant documents and the identity of any witnesses.
You can complete the form electronically. However, you must still physically sign it and send it in by post. If you would rather complete the form by hand, please choose the pdf version.
GOC investigation form (version to complete electronically)
GOC investigation form (version to complete by hand)
Copies of records form
For more information about fitness to practise complaints, please see our booklet “How to complain about an optician":
How to complain about an optician
Contacting our Fitness to Practise team
If you want more information about our complaints or fitness to practise procedures, please contact our Fitness to Practise team:
020 7580 3898 (option 2)
Complaints about illegal practice
If you want to make a complaint about illegal optical practice, more information is available in our Protocol on the Investigation and Prosecution of Criminal Offences:
Protocol for the investigation and prosecution of criminal offences
How to complain about illegal practice
The first step is to fill in the illegal practice complaint form.
GOC illegal practice complaint form
Illegal practice complaint form
When completing the complaint form, you need to provide details to enable us to gather evidence about your complaint. The details we need include information about any relevant documents and the identity of witnesses.
You can complete the form electronically or by hand. It is not necessary to physically sign the form or send it in by post.
Contacting our Legal Compliance team
Patients (including customers) must be able to trust optometrists, dispensing
opticians, and those undertaking training as optometrists and dispensing opticians,
with their well-being.
The Code for Individual Registrants:
As a registered optometrist, dispensing optician, or person undertaking training as an
optometrist or dispensing optician, you must:
1. Make the care of the patient your first and continuing concern;
2. Treat every patient politely and considerately;
3. Respect patients' dignity and privacy;
4. Listen to patients and respect their views;
5. Give patients information in a way they can understand and make them aware
of the options available; on the issue of patient consent, be aware of and comply
with the guidance published by the professional bodies;
6. Maintain adequate patients' records;
7. Respect the rights of patients to be fully involved in decisions about their care;
8. Keep professional knowledge and skills up to date;
9. Recognise, and act within, the limits of your professional competence;
10. Be honest and trustworthy;
11. Ensure that financial and commercial practices do not compromise patient safety;
12. Respect and protect confidential information;
13. Make sure that personal beliefs do not prejudice patient care;
14. Act quickly to protect patients from risk where there is good reason to believe that
you, or a colleague, may not be fit to practise, fit to undertake training, or in the
case of a business registrant fit to carry on business as an optometrist,
dispensing optician or both1;
15. Never abuse your professional position;
16. Work with colleagues in the ways that best serve patients' interests;
17. Register with and maintain registration with the GOC;
18. Be covered by adequate and appropriate insurance for practice in the United
Kingdom throughout the period of your registration2;
19. Ensure your conduct, whether or not connected to your professional practice,
does not damage public confidence in you or your profession.