Patients ‘at risk’ as insurer turns its back on disgraced dentist
David Corless-Smith, dentist, solicitor, barrister and director at the Dental Law Partnership – a law firm with nearly 15 years’ experience specialising in dental negligence claims – said: “The DDU has said it will not indemnify D’Mello, effectively putting thousands of claimants at risk by forcing them to claim directly against the disgraced dentist and his assets, with no guarantee of any damages.
“This is a disgraceful failure of the safety net that patients fully deserve and expect to be in place! That’s why we are pushing the government for urgent reforms in the way that dentists are insured to safeguard patients of healthcare scandals, such as this one, have access to the proper legal recourse.”
Late last year, the Nottingham-based dental practice was thrust into the media spotlight, when serious malpractice around cleanliness and infection control was exposed. Following this, health chiefs launched an appeal to urge all of D’Mello’s patients throughout his 32 years of practice, to come forward for testing – some 22,000 patients, thought to be the biggest recall in in British medical history.
David continued: “This was, and still is, a recall of epic proportions. We are already acting for hundreds of ex-D’Mello patients and expect hundreds more. These people have a right to justice and should be pursuing their claims through the DDU. However, the DDU’s Board of Management has specifically refused to indemnify D’Mello, meaning claimants will have to pursue D’Mello directly in order to seek any recompense and the more claimants, the less any potential pay-out will be.
“We believe that adequate professional liability insurance should be mandatory for dentists to prevent this sorry state of affairs from ever happening again. Through our ‘Bridge the Gap’ campaign, we have been working to raise awareness of current legal loopholes and force all dentists to have adequate liability insurance and have this policed by the General Dental Council. Unfortunately, it appears that this loophole has been exploited again, leaving claimants potentially high and dry.
“This level of mandatory insurance should be there to protect patients. However, the irony is that although insurance for dentists is mandatory, patients are still not necessarily covered as bodies like the DDU which were set-up to insure dentists, can use their discretionary powers to withdraw cover, as in this case – it just makes a mockery of the whole system!”
David concluded: “It’s a basic right to expect good quality dental treatment every time you visit the dentist and we should be able to trust all practitioners. Only by taking rogue dentists to task and bringing them to justice through the courts, can we ever expect to stamp out malpractice in the dental profession.”