Dentist on conditional registration fined $50k for working in S'pore without supervisor

Conditionally registered dentists are required to work under supervision for at least two years to be granted full registration in Singapore. PHOTO: PEXELS

SINGAPORE - 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, also has to pay all costs of the Singapore Dental Council's (SDC) disciplinary hearing, the Council's disciplinary committee said in judgment released recently.

However, the dentist has left the country.

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

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 worked on inmates in 2015 without the presence of his supervisor for a total of 75 days from March 30 to Dec 24. He was the only dentist there for an average of 8.1 hours a week.

The records also showed that in the same time period, Dr Campbell had worked 15 days while the supervising dentist was in the prison premises.

Both the supervisor and the 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 was identified as Dr X by the disciplinary committee.

"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 while not under supervision suffered any actual harm.

Dr Campbell had "showed no remorse at all for the offence he had committed. Instead of contrition, his words conveyed arrogance, defiance", said the committee.

It added 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, the disciplinary committee added.

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 that given his base salary was $10,000 a month, a one-year suspension would have equalled a fine of $120,000 - above the maximum fine it can impose.

Aside from his base salary, Dr Campbell had also received a commission for seeing the prison inmates.

It was not stated in the recently released published grounds of decision how the incident came to light or who filed the complaint against him in May 2017.

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