Bures/Witham: Optician banned from practising after providing inferior lenses and overcharging patients by more than £12,000

Man worked at Specsavers, Witham

Man worked at Specsavers, Witham - Credit: Contributed

An optician who overcharged patients in Essex by more than £12,000 by providing inferior lenses has been found guilty of “serious dishonesty” and barred from practising.

Lee Bernard, who lives in Bures and was a partner at the Witham branch of Specsavers, was removed from the General Optical Council’s register following the determination of two misconduct hearings held in July and August.

The hearing committee ruled that Bernard, 35, as a registered dispensing optician between July 2010 and July 2012, failed to ensure, in relation to more than 400 lenses, that the patents received the products they ordered. He was personally responsible for processing the sale of about 135 of the inferior lenses.

Some of these included the provision of standard plastic lenses to children under 16, rather than the Trivex “SuperTough” lenses required by Specsavers’ national policy.

“As a result of the registrant’s dishonesty, children were placed at risk,” the determination states.

“The registrant’s dishonesty misled parents into thinking their children were being given unbreakable lenses, when in fact they were given standard lenses.

“If such lenses were to shatter, this could have had very serious consequences for the children concerned.

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“Added to this, adult patients could have experienced discomfort by being supplied with inferior lenses to those they had ordered.”

The dishonesty was unmasked following an unrelated complaint in July 2012, which resulted in Specsavers’ loss prevention department auditing the store.

According to the determination, Bernard contended the provision of inferior lenses was “at most poor management” as he did not know what was happening.

The committee, however, described his evidence as “lacking in credibility or plausibility about his behaviour in the business”.

Bernard’s mitigation included an apology to the committee and his profession.

A Specsavers spokesman said: “We always do our best to provide a high standard of service and were very shocked and saddened to discover that some of our customers had been deceived in this manner.

“When confronted Mr Bernard resigned with immediate effect. All customers who had received an inferior product to what they had ordered were contacted directly and offered a full refund and a £75 voucher towards any future purchase.

“We have since taken steps to help prevent similar incidents from happening in future.’

Bernard has 28 days to appeal against the order.