GOC sanction quashed
Author: Simon Jones
A retired optometrist erased from General Optical Council registers in 2016 has successfully appealed the decision in the High Court.
Mathew Clarke, was suspended for 18-months by fitness to practise committee in 2015 following a delayed diagnosis of a patient’s pituitary tumour. At a review hearing in June 2016, a second committee made the decision to erase him from the registers after finding his fitness to practise was impaired.
Clarke’s appeal over the decision hinged on the argument that sanction of erasure was unnecessary, disproportionate and unfair. Clarke’s retirement, the sale of his business, and undertaking to no longer practise following his suspension were not considered by the GOC panel in the second review hearing. However, Mr Justice Fraser ruled that these circumstances were relevant to the decision.
The judge said the GOC’s decision to strike him off was ‘wholly disproportionate’ and ‘plainly and obviously wrong. The body should have concluded that, given Clarke’s retirement, the likelihood of repetition was very close to zero.’The GOC’s original decision was quashed and substituted with a decision of no impairment.