Dentist fined $50,000 for working without supervision in 2015

A dentist on conditional registration has been fined $50,000 for treating prison inmates over a nine-month period without his supervisor present.

Dr Matthew Angus Christopher Campbell, an Australian, has to also pay all costs of the Singapore Dental Council's (SDC) hearing, its disciplinary committee said in judgment released recently. However, he has left the country.

Conditionally registered dentists are required to work under supervision for at least two years to be granted full registration here.

Dr Campbell was employed by a clinic here and had a fully registered dentist as his supervisor.

However, according to Singapore Prison Service records, he treated inmates in 2015 without the presence of his supervisor for 75 days from March 30 to Dec 24.

Both the supervisor and dentist supervised are responsible for adhering to SDC regulations for conditional registration.

The Straits Times understands that there is a separate disciplinary inquiry looking into the actions of the supervisor, who is identified as Dr X.

"Dr Campbell's choice to treat these inmate-patients without Dr X being present to supervise him amounted to a disregard for his patients' welfare, safety and best interests," said the disciplinary committee.

However, it noted that none of the estimated 1,125 to 2,500 prisoners he treated  suffered any harm.

Dr Campbell "showed no remorse at all for the offence he had committed; instead of contrition, his words conveyed arrogance, defiance", it said, adding that he even "mounted an attack on SDC counsel, and argued that he was denied procedural fairness".

In deciding on the penalty, the committee also took into account Dr Campbell's statement in September last year that he did not intend to renew his practising certificate here, and that he was also not practising in Australia. Hence, it said there was no punitive effect in suspending him from practice. It would have suspended him for a year if he were still in practice.

Instead, it opted for the maximum $50,000 fine, adding that it "would have imposed a much higher fine if it were within its power to do so, but it is not".

It said given that his base salary was $10,000 a month, a one-year suspension would have amounted to a fine of $120,000 - but this is above the maximum fine it can impose.

It was not stated in the grounds of decision how the incident came to light or who filed the complaint against Dr Campbell in May 2017.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 04, 2021, with the headline 'Dentist on conditional registration fined $50,000 for working without supervisor'. Subscribe