Dentist suspended following claims of inappropriate sexual behaviour towards trainee dental nurse

Baron Harris of Haringey has been confirmed as the new chair for the General Dental Council (GDC)

A dentist has been suspended for 18 months following claims he inappropriately touched a trainee dental nurse in the practice.

It is alleged that the dentist made inappropriate comments of a sexual nature, engaged in inappropriate touching, and made inappropriate repeated out of hours contact with the complainant – a 19-year-old trainee dental nurse – between November 2022 and February 2023.

The complainant, who started working at the practice in October 2022, reported the behaviour to two other dental partners at the practice.

They commissioned an independent HR consultancy to undertake an investigation into the grievances. The report was then provided to the GDC.

Interviews with staff who work solely at the practice say that they have all witnessed the dentist make inappropriate comments of a sexual nature.

One member of staff who worked with the dentist for more than two decades said: ’21 years I have worked here and 21 years it has been going on for… I have said you cannot speak to young girls like that, he would respond, “I know, I’m vile”.’

Claims of inappropriate touching and messaging

The complainant provided a recording of the dentist making sexually inappropriate comments to her while they were alone in the staff room. These comments are too explicit to reproduce.

The audio recording transcript notes that the complainant asks the male to ‘go away’ three times and to ‘stop staring at me’.

The dentist denies making any inappropriate comments.

He is also accused of touching the dental nurse inappropriately. This includes ‘slapping her thigh’ while another staff member witnessed him ‘rubbing and gyrating’ against a member of staff.

The dentist denies touching the complainant. He states that some amount of touching is ‘unavoidable’ due to the nature of working in close proximity.

The Interim Orders Committee also heard claims that the dentist sends inappropriate messages to colleagues out of hours, including in the practice group chat.

The dental nurse has said that the behaviour resulted in her feeling upset, emotionally overwhelmed and unsafe in the workplace.

The dentist confirmed he had contacted the complainant outside of work hours but that those messages were ‘partly instigated by his wife’. The committee said it is not clear what is meant by this.

‘Cogent material’ in support of claims

The internal grievance process report also listed a number of previous concerns, including:

  • The dentist seen ‘gyrating’ and ‘rubbing’ against a colleague in the practice
  • The dentist kissing females colleagues at work events outside of working hours
  • The dentist discussing topics of a sexual nature such as dogging and prostitution in front of colleagues during working hours at the practice.

The committee considered there to be ‘cogent material’ in support of the concerns in relation to the dentist’s alleged conduct.

When considering the recording, it said: ‘It was not apparent from the continuous nine minute recording that the comments were made in the context of any mutual banter or discussion between you and the complainant.

‘Rather, the comments appeared to be persistent and unwanted. The complainant appeared to repeatedly challenge or reject the increasingly sexual nature of the comments.’

Interim order ‘necessary’

It concluded: ‘In the committee’s judgement, there would be a real risk of harm to the public should you be allowed to continue practising without any restriction on your registration whilst the concerns continue to be investigated.’

It added: ‘The material before the committee indicates that the concerns, if true, were not isolated or taken out of context, but may form part of a pattern of inappropriate behaviour towards junior female colleagues where you had allegedly abused a position of power.’

As a result, it determined that an interim order was necessary for the protection of both colleagues and patients.

The period of the interim order is 18 months, owing to the ‘early stage of the GDC’s investigation’. The committee determined that the order shall be reviewed in six months or earlier on the application of either party.

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