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Care scam dentist is struck off.

Byline: Neil Connor

A debt-ridden dentist who pressurised patients into buying fictitious care plans and used the funds to fend off creditors was struck off yesterday.

Kevin Fletcher, aged 47, also made extra cash from his clients by selling an extension on the Premier Dental Health Plan that extended cover from five to ten years.

But patients were left shocked and disappointed when they had to pay more money for certain treatments which were outside the plan.

Mr Fletcher, who practised in Edgbaston, Birmingham, was finally made bankrupt in March 2001, having been the subject of 14 County Court judgments.

The General Dental Council heard that a total of pounds 23,850 was paid to Mr Fletcher by four patients.

Disgruntled patients then found the surgery at, Chad Road, Edgbaston, locked up after it was repossessed at the beginning of November 2001.

Mr Fletcher, who now lives in Hatfield, Hertfordshire, was found guilty of serious professional misconduct after a threeday hearing.

He was found guilty of a total of 53 charges regarding the care plan, the treatment of two of the patients, and qualifications he listed in the papers explaining the benefits of the purchase.

Chairman of the General Dental Council's professional conduct committee, Professor Ronnie Laird, said: 'Dentists have a prime responsibility to put the interests of patients first and the committee is disappointed at the clear evidence of abuse of professional privilege which has led to the incorrect raising of funds from patients.'

Mr Fletcher had shown 'lamentable short-comings' that fell short of those expected of a 'competent general practitioner'.

'The committee was seriously concerned about your claim to a specialist status that you did not possess, which suggests to patients a high standard of knowledge and skills in excess of the average dental practitioner.'

Finally, he said the termination of a practice without making arrangements for the continuing treatment of patients was 'quite unacceptable'.

Lydia Barnfather, for the GDC, told the committee how the plan was sold and extended at times when Mr Fletcher needed cash to pay creditors.

'Fletcher sought to ease cash flow problems by raising funds from patients. He encouraged them to part with several thousand pounds by promising treatment under what he called the Premier Dental Health Plan ... which was entirely his own creation.'

Chris Johnston, representing Mr Fletcher, said he left the Midlands when he was able to get a home in Hertfordshire.

He said the practitioner now worked 'very successfully' as an associate in the East London practice.

'At no stage has he had to deal with any financial aspects,' said Mr Johnston.

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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Jun 12, 2003
Words:436
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