Scottish dentist suspended over ‘grave failings’

Scotland’s top-earning NHS dentist has been suspended from practising for nine months after a string of failings in the treatment of patients.
George Campbell mistakenly took out patients healthy teeth. Picture: PAGeorge Campbell mistakenly took out patients healthy teeth. Picture: PA
George Campbell mistakenly took out patients healthy teeth. Picture: PA

The General Dental Council (GDC) heard George Campbell, who owns the All 1 Smile chain, allowed unqualified members of staff to give children unnecessary treatment at his clinics.

The professional conduct committee was told he repeatedly failed to check the qualifications of staff who carried out orthodontic work.

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One “orthodontist” tried to straighten a patient’s teeth with no training at all.

Mr Campbell also failed to complete adequate treatment plans for patients before exposing them to radiation during unnecessary X-rays.

He then fixed a child’s braces after confusing one of their baby teeth for an adult one, causing “irreparable harm” and a lifetime of “extensive restorative treatment”.

In 2012-13, Mr Campbell earned £2.1 million from the health service across six different practices in his chain, making him the top-earning NHS dentist in the country.

The figures, from NHS National Services Scotland, relate to the total income claimed by that dentist for work carried out for NHS general dental services.

From this, dentists have to pay their own salary and practice expenses, such as for equipment, accommodation and material. They may also have to pay other staff working in their practice.

Mr Campbell has two orthodontic practices in Glasgow and others in East Kilbride, Cumbernauld, Greenock, Hamilton and Kilmarnock.

The 35-day GDC hearing, was told he mistakenly extracted patients’ healthy teeth and referred children for surgery at hospital that they did not need.

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After finding him guilty of a series of charges – the majority of which he had denied – the committee took the decision to suspend him for nine months.

Committee chairman Stewart Goulding told Mr Campbell: “There are a number of grave failings in your clinical practice highlighted by the findings.

‘Taking these wide-ranging failings together with your departures from specific guidance and standards within the profession, the committee had little difficulty in determining that the facts found proved amounted to serious misconduct.”

Mr Campbell was referred to the GDC in September 2011 after complaints about the treatment of 30 patients, spanning more than a decade. The hearing was told that between July 2001 and August 2011, he repeatedly referred children for unnecessary extraction and surgery.

He also failed to ensure staff were fully qualified, with up to 18 employees carrying out treatment before they had completed their orthodontic training.

One All 1 Smile employee even provided orthodontic treatment without having any dental qualifications or training, the tribunal heard.

Mr Campbell told the GDC that there was a lack of guidance from the regulatory body when it came to his newly qualified staff. He added that he did not see his staff’s training certificates and presumed they were qualified to carry out orthodontic treatment.

Mr Campbell had been allowed to continue to practice’s orthodontic work under supervision until the conclusion of the GDC tribunal, which first sat in October last year.

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While the committee found serious failings in his care in relation to a number of patients, some other charges were found not proved, including that he failed to ensure patient numbers could be adequately served at his clinics.