The General Optical Council (GOC), the UK regulator for optometrists and dispensing opticians, has decided to impose the maximum financial penalty of £50,000 on Boots Opticians Professional Services LTD.
A GOC Fitness to Practise Committee found their fitness to carry on business impaired for failing to appropriately manage protected disclosures made about clinical concerns within their business.
In making the decision, the Committee, chaired by Anne Johnstone, said:
“The Committee would have expected a business registrant which was cognisant of the importance of whistleblowing as an important mechanism for monitoring patient safety to have addressed the deficiencies in its policy and delivered appropriate training to all of its employees much earlier, and with a much greater sense of urgency, than had in fact occurred here.
“The Business Registrant’s approach to the matter consistently downplayed the significance of the failures that had occurred. This approach had been maintained right up to and during the conduct of this hearing. The Committee was not satisfied that the registrant had demonstrated full insight or remediation.
“Significant public interest disclosures had not been recognised as such and a potential safeguard for patient safety had thereby not operated as it should have done. The Committee regards this case as at the most serious end of the spectrum and has concluded that the maximum financial penalty order should be imposed.”
Boots Opticians Professional Services LTD has until 26 March 2019 to appeal the financial penalty.