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Man pleads guilty to practising as optometrist

Unqualified man pleads guilty to practising as an optometrist

18 February 2007

Please attribute to Dr John Marwick, Manager Workforce


The Ministry of Health has successfully brought a prosecution under the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act 2003 against an Auckland man claiming to be an optometrist without being properly qualified and registered.

This is the first time the Ministry has brought a prosecution under this Act against an unqualified person claiming to be a registered health professional.

The man, Peter Sang Wook Park, of Pakuranga, pleaded guilty to six representative charges and was today sentenced in the Counties Manukau District Court to fines of $48,000 and with reparation and other costs the total was over $60,000.

The six charges represent a pattern of offending extending over a year. They relate to Mr Park's calling himself an optometrist (a title that only registered practitioners may use), prescribing spectacles and contact lenses (a restricted activity under the Act) and acting in a way calculated to suggest that he was an optometrist.

In sentencing Park, Justice Harvey stated that he considered the offences were too serious for the court to make anything other than a stern response. He noted that there were significant health risks to the public and Mr Park had misrepresented himself to people who relied on his false claims. Justice Harvey said that this case should make it abundantly clear that "quacks" would be dealt with seriously.

Park purported to practise as an optometrist from June 2006 to June 2007. Computer records seized by investigators indicate he conducted over 477 consultations with patients over that time, and Park has since acknowledged that he has no optometry qualifications.

"This man's actions in holding himself out as an optometrist, conducting eye examinations and prescribing contact lenses and glasses, including to children, misled the public and placed their health at risk," said the Ministry of Health's Manager Workforce, Dr John Marwick.

"Patients who saw the defendant had no way to discern this, and the majority of the offending was conducted by Park with the full knowledge that his actions were unlawful."

Dr Marwick said this case should serve as a reminder that people falsely claiming to be registered practitioners face serious consequences. He said the Ministry took these matters very seriously and was currently investigating a number of other complaints. Further prosecutions will be brought if necessary to protect the public.

ENDS

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