Fitness to practise in focus: dealing with dishonesty
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Fitness to practise in focus: dealing with dishonesty

FTP - webIn this issue of eBulletin, we look at the learning points taken from recent FTP cases involving dishonesty.

The Fitness to Practise Committee has considered a number of cases where it is alleged that a registrant had been dishonest.

The current Code of Conduct (in force since April 2010) requires all registrants to be honest and trustworthy. This applies in a registrant’s personal life and professional life.

The code also makes it obligatory for registrants to immediately disclose to the GOC any/all of the following as soon as they arise (a non-exhaustive list):
• conviction/caution/disciplinary sanction by a healthcare organisation
• being barred from working with children or vulnerable adults
• suspension by employer
• health condition which a reasonable person would think may impair fitness to practise.

The retention form also specifically mentions that any investigation(s) in relation to a criminal offence should be declared. If you are in doubt, you must always contact our GOC registration team for advice.

Case studies

One case involved a dispensing optician registrant, who was alleged to have tested sight, forged the signature of an ophthalmic practitioner and made subsequent false claims for payment on GOS forms. The registrant in question also failed to make relevant declarations to the GOC.

The Committee determined that the registrant’s conduct was premeditated and persistent, and that “the fact that none of the patients in question were adversely affected was not the point”. The registrant was erased from the register.

The Committee determined that “although the registrant was already the subject of a criminal sanction, it had a responsibility to ensure that he did not have the opportunity to repeat his misconduct, and that the reputation of the profession is maintained (which is more important than the fortunes of the individual concerned)”.

Similarly, an optometrist who had been convicted of conspiracy to defraud and perverting the course of justice, and who had failed to declare to the GOC on two occasions that he was the subject of a criminal investigation, was found to have acted dishonestly and was suspended for 12 months.

In contrast, a registrant optometrist who had similar allegations made against him and had been erased from the register in December 2008, was allowed to be restored in 2011.

This was because the Committee accepted that the registrant had done all he reasonably could to try and rehabilitate himself, including keeping up to date with CET, paying back the money he had stolen and more, and fully meeting all the requirements of his Community Service Order.

Issues of honesty are also relevant when the GOC Registrar is considering whether to allow an applicant onto the registers. A potential registrant with a conviction for benefit fraud was refused registration by the Registrar, and then by the FTP Committee hearing the appeal.

The Committee judged that, although the registrant was not a risk to the public and there was no risk of re-offending, she still had to “re-pay her debt to society by completing her (criminal) suspended sentence”. The dishonesty which led to the conviction was found to be relevant to entry onto the GOC register.

The Committee considers each case individually; however, the GOC has published guidance which sets out an authoritative statement of the GOC’s approach to sanctions.

For full details of FTP statistics, view our online Annual Report 2010-11


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eBulletin February 2012

CET deadline: 60 per cent of registrants have more work to do

Retention deadline 15 March

Fitness to practise in focus: dealing with dishonesty

Samantha Peters visits RNIB

Reminder to registrants