FORMER Shetland optician Brian Kelly has been banned from practising as an optometrist in the UK after the General Optical Council (GOC) ruled that he fraudulently claimed nearly £30,000 from the NHS while working in the isles.
Kelly, who ran Kelly Opticians on Lerwick’s Commercial Street for a number of years alongside his wife until the early 2000s, was adjudged to have made 25 “dishonest claims” for payment when he owned the Shetland practice between 1995 and 1999.
The current owners of the Commercial Street practice are in no way implicated by the GOC ruling.
Kelly has been erased from the GOC register and has until 17 March to appeal. He is suspended and is unable to practise in the meantime.
During a hearing which took place earlier this month, the GOC confirmed that Kelly’s practice over-claimed remuneration from the NHS worth £29,398.30 in the space of four years.
This included giving vouchers for replacement spectacles in circumstances not permitted by NHS regulations and claiming for work in excess of that actually carried out.
He was alleged to have “persistently” claimed payments for the issue and supply of additional pairs of spectacles for children as spares and not as replacements, which regulations permit.
The GOC ruled that Kelly also failed to inform employers that he was not registered to provide NHS services while working as a locum optometrist at practices on the Scottish mainland between 2006 and 2007.
The regulatory body also said Kelly had not “engaged” in the hearing and that he did not provide any up-to-date information to the committee, while no references and testimonials had been submitted.
Chairwoman of the GOC’s fitness to practise committee Valerie Paterson commented: “Mr Kelly had made inappropriate and fraudulent claims for payment on twenty five specific occasions. These occasions were themselves a selection from a pattern of wider fraud over a period of about four years.
“The committee was in no doubt that the facts that it had found proved, in relation to the registrant’s dishonesty, amounted to misconduct.
“While no question had been raised in relation to his clinical competence, the lack of probity demonstrated in this case was considered extremely serious.
“In making its decision, the committee concluded that the sanction of erasure was the only proportionate outcome in this case, to uphold proper standards of conduct and to maintain confidence in the profession and in its regulation.”
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