AN optician has been suspended by industry watchdogs over lengthy delays in honouring orders taken for spectacles and contact lenses.

Alan Young was providing domiciliary optometric care across the North-East for people unable to travel for their sight tests.

Mr Young, who lives in Birtley, near Chester-le-Street, but was based in Sedgefield, has been banned from practising for 18 months after the General Optical Council (GOC) imposed an interim order in his absence early last month.

Loading article content

The GOC launched an investigation after receiving several complaints about him earlier this year.

The Fitness to Practise committee chairman Margaret Hallendorff said evidence before the committee suggests a pattern of behaviour has emerged.

In a report to the GOC, she said: “He takes payment for glasses from his patients but fails to deliver them within a reasonable time.

“His patients are particularly vulnerable, typically elderly and with difficult leaving their homes.”

Mr Young is said to have harmed patients on financial grounds as well as medical, by depriving them of optical equipment which he knows they need.

Ms Hallendorff said: “One patient has reported to have been suffering from eyestrain and headaches every day while he waits for his glasses.

“Such alleged conduct, would inevitably cause patients to lose confidence in the registrant and the profession.”

In October, Mr Young’s registration with the council was made subject to conditions, which became effective in November after a patient claimed she ordered contact lenses which did not arrive.

She said she paid £110 in 2011 for the lenses on her credit card but when she asked for a refund was told it would not be possible.

A review was due to be carried out at the council’s Fitness to Practise Committee on May 23.

However, the committee received a letter on behalf of Mr Young the day before the hearing was due to take place stating he was too unwell to attend.

Committee chairman Mercy Jeyasingham granted an adjournment until July 25 to give him the chance to be there.

In a report, the chairman said: “The committee took into account that there was at present an interim suspension order made on May 2 for a period of 18 months duration against the registrant, arising from a separate fitness to practise matter.

“The committee was satisfied that this provided the public with the protection needed in respect of the registrant if the substantive review did not take place today.

“It was not disputed that the registrant was unwell and that the registrant was entitled to a fair hearing before the committee.”

The Northern Echo was unable to contact Mr Young for comment.