Impact of denial and risk of reoccurrence on a Committee’s decision on sanction

Shah v General Dental Council was an appeal by S against an order imposed by the General Dental Council removing his name from the register.

It had been alleged that S had made unsolicited telephone calls to a patient (X) and had also made unwanted sexual advances towards her. Further to this, S had dishonestly told X that he could not perform the necessary dental treatment on the NHS, when X received state benefits and was in fact exempt from paying for dental treatment. S informed X that if she spent more time with him then he would reduce the cost of her treatment. X was later advised that she did not have to pay for the treatment and when she confronted S, he offered her a refund if she withdrew her complaint. Finally, it was alleged that S had failed to obtain informed consent to perform X’s treatment.

S appeared before the General Dental Council’s Professional Conduct Committee where he denied the allegations. The Committee, however, found the above facts proven. The Committee concluded that there had been a serious breach of trust and that the vulnerability of X was an aggravating feature. They also felt that S lacked remorse and an order was made for S to be removed from the register.

S submitted that, in considering the appropriate sanction to be imposed, the Committee had only had regard to the fact that he had disputed the allegations and had not considered the risk of such conduct reoccurring.

S’s appeal was dismissed. The Committee was entitled to find that removal, and not suspension, was an appropriate sanction. The committee had proper regard to the evidence before it. The fact that S had denied the allegations did not justify the imposition of a more severe sanction, however his denial did disclose a lack of remorse and insight.

The full transcript is yet to be published.