ONE OF the highest earning dentists in Scotland has been suspended and ordered to pay back £175,000 of public money after he was found guilty of poor hygiene.
Andre Basson failed to wash his hands between patients and on occasion did not even wear gloves at his practice in Inverness.
It has been reported he was paid £245,000 for his NHS work last year, making him one of the highest-earning NHS dentists in Scotland.
He was awarded £175,000 in 2009 by the NHS to help him set up his practice as part of a scheme to address the shortage of dentists in the north of Scotland.
But a hearing of the General Dental Council (GDC) earlier this month found that Basson had put patients’ health at risk on several occasions between April 2009 and May 2014.
Mr Basson, who ran The Keep dental practice on Castle Street, Inverness, has been given a six month suspension and was ordered to repay the NHS grant.
Four trainee dental nurses who had raised concerns about his conduct gave evidence against him at the hearing, although their identity was protected.
The committee found proven a charge that Mr Basson did not wash his hands when required, and heard evidence from a nurse that his failure to wash his hands was a daily occurrence.
Two nurses told the panel they had never seen him use an alcohol hand rub between patients.
It was also accepted that Mr Basson had not worn gloves on two or three occasions when using instruments in a patient’s mouth, and had wiped and re-used dental tools without adequate decontamination.
A further charge, that he did not wear proper clinical clothing, was also proved.
Clear and consistent evidence
The report stated: “The Committee heard consistent and clear evidence that you did not wash your hands before seeing patients at the start of the day or as necessary between patients.
“In particular we heard evidence from Dental Nurse B who recounted an occasion when you had returned to treat a patient after taking a telephone call, and that you had put the same pair of gloves back on to your hands without washing your hands.
“The Committee also heard from Dental Nurse C, who stated that your failure to wash your hands was a daily occurrence.
“Two trainee dental nurses, namely nurses A and C, gave evidence that they had never seen you using an alcohol rub or similar in between patient appointments. “
Mr Basson was also found to have wiped and re-used common dental tools.
The report said: “The Committee heard from Dental Nurse D, who in the Committee’s view provided clear evidence of you recycling an acrylic bur on one specific occasion without adequate decontamination.
“She stated that you removed the bur from the ‘dirty box’, that you then wiped the bur with an alcohol wipe, and that you then put the bur back into storage. “
On more or more occasions, Mr Basson was also found to have not worn proper clothing in clinical areas, with witnesses stating he had worn outdoor items including a hooded fleece top whilst treating patients.
He admitted failing to ensure dental nurses were properly immunised from infection and failing to provide proper induction training.
Other charges that he inappropriately told a dental nurse that she ought not to have attended Occupational Health after a needle stick injury, did not provide warm water for hand washing, and that he prohibited staff from changing masks between patients were not proved.
The conclusion to the report said: “The Committee considers that you wilfully disregarded the safety of your staff and patients.
“The Committee is in no doubt that both fellow professionals and informed members of the public alike would regard your conduct as deplorable.
“Accordingly, the Committee is satisfied that the findings against you are serious and that they amount to misconduct.”
A spokesman for NHS Highland said: “A spokesman for NHS Highland said: “We can now confirm that Mr Basson will have to pay back the full grant. He was awarded the grant so he will have to pay it back.
“Mr Basson received a Scottish Dental Access Initiative (SDAI) grant of £175,000 to assist with setting up The Keep Dental Practice.
“The payment was made in two stages as is consistent with the SDAI scheme: £140,000 and then subsequently £35,000.
“As he has breached the conditions of his grant, he will be required to repay grant monies and this process has been started.”
Mr Basson declined to comment.