Hearing aid dispenser diverted cash
A hearing aid dispenser has been suspended for six months after a professional misconduct hearing found he was dishonest.
Donal Keane, 53, who is based in the Republic but was licensed to practise in the UK, was told his behaviour fell "far short" of the standards expected from a healthcare professional and had the potential to undermine public confidence.
A Health and Care Professional Council (HCPC) hearing in Belfast learned that Mr Keane deliberately diverted profits from his former employer into a company he had set up.
The qualified audiologist had carried out tests on a number of people on behalf of Hidden Hearing Ltd but kept profits from hearing aid sales for his own firm Leinster Hearing. He also amended documents in a bid to conceal his actions.
Christine Mills, chair of the three-person panel, said: "The panel find that fitness to practise is impaired."
She added: "The dishonest behaviour falls far below what the public expect from a professional."
Ms Mills said the six-month ban had been imposed as a deterrent to other professionals but acknowledged that striking Mr Keane off the register would mean a loss of experience.
"This appropriate and proportionate sanction given the acceptance that his actions were in error and that he should not have taken business from Hidden Hearing," she said.
There was no suggestion of any harm to patients as a result of Mr Keane's misconduct and it emerged that following civil proceedings he had repaid the lost profits to Hidden Hearing.
Mr Keane said: "I have already lost my job and this has also caused the loss of my good name.
"I am an ordinary man. I have a modest lifestyle and little in the way of possessions save for my family home."
He told the hearing he "loved his job" as an audiologist because it enabled him to make a real difference and he hoped his years of experience would not be brought to an abrupt end.
"I realise this was an error on my part. I can assure the panel it is something that will never happen again," he said.
Speaking afterwards, an emotional Mr Keane said he was considering appealing against the suspension.
"I am extremely disappointed. I am taking legal advice on that. It could turn out to be a very expensive process for me and could put my family home at risk.
"It was discretionary thing on my part to register with the HCPC which does not (operate) in my jurisdiction of the Republic of Ireland. I did it for the benefit of my patients and it has been used against me."