Simon Jones: Read the room
Author: Simon Jones
I’m finding it hard to make sense of some of the reaction to the GOC’s decision to hand optometrist Honey Rose a nine-month suspension order for her failure to diagnose a build-up of fluid on the brain of an eight-year-old boy during an eye exam in 2012. A boy who died a few months later.
Let’s start with the Association of Optometrists’ statement issued after the fitness to practise hearing last week. ‘Ultimately we feel that is a good result for her (Honey Rose) and the AOP’s legal team,’ said the AOP.
A good result? Even through the prism of a membership association focused intently on the interests of its client, I’m not sure ‘good result’ is the best way to describe the outcome of a case where an eight-year-old boy lost his life (In Focus page 6).
Optometry forum, theoptom.com, was also the source of some questionable reaction. There, Rose’s professional peers
discussed name changes, alleged corporate failures and expert witnesses at the 2016 gross negligence manslaughter court hearing that were ‘egregiously petty-minded against optometry.’ Yes, they’re just people’s opinions, to which they are perfectly entitled, but I can’t help but feel the attitudes expressed are symptomatic of a profession that has closed ranks to protect one of its own.
For years now, optometry has talked up the role it can play in wider healthcare, but there seems to be resistance to taking ownership when things go wrong. Tragically wrong.
But maybe I too am guilty of looking at the case through a prism? The prism of someone who has spoken to the Barker family at length about their unimaginable experience as well as their desire to talk to eye health charities about the good that can come from optometry – a desire that was sadly blocked by internal politics.