By Niall McCracken
A SENIOR dentist at the centre of a major health scandal involving the recall of over 100 patients has had the decision to strike him off the dental register quashed by the High Court.
In 2011 Professor Philip Lamey, then a consultant in Oral Medicine at Belfast’s Royal Victoria Hospital’s School of Dentistry, had 135 of his patients recalled after 35 of them developed cancer and four died.
In September last year the General Dental Council (GDC) struck Professor Lamey off the dental register and placed him under immediate suspension when it upheld 110 allegations of malpractice.
However The Detail can reveal that on March 27 this year Professor Lamey won a High Court appeal which argued that there were errors in the GDC’s decision.
As a result the court quashed the sanction made by the GDC. It found that an “order of erasure” should be replaced with a six month suspension.
The allegations of malpractice made against Professor Lamey were investigated by the GDC’s Professional Conduct Committee (PCC).
In a statement to The Detail the GDC said:“His (Professor Lamey’s) appeal alleged that the PCC made errors in parts, but not all, of their decision. The GDC accepts that the PCC did make some errors in their decision and the Court (with the GDC’s agreement) has ordered that the PCC’s decision that Professor Lamey be erased from the Dentists Register should be substituted with a six month suspension order.”
Professor Lamey had also previously held a teaching post at Queen’s University but was dismissed after the GDC began investigating the allegations of misconduct.
In 2012 The Detail reported on an inspection of Queens University’s School of Dentistry which regulators deemed as being in a “fragile and vulnerable position”.
The latest inspection report by the GDC last month found that the school was fit to retain its registration but said that previous problems such as staffing levels still had not been addressed.
Professor Lamey lost an unfair dismissal case against the university in August last year.
In September last year the GDC decided to remove Professor Lamey from the dental register after it found him guilty of inadequate management, failing to diagnose cancer in patients and poor record keeping.
Following the decision Professor Lamey appealed the decision in the High Court.
His appeal claimed that there were errors in the decision to remove him from the dental register.
As a result the court reversed the decision to erase Professor Lamey from the dentists’ register and ruled that this should be substituted with a six month suspension order.
The suspension will run until 28 August 2015 and will be reviewed before that date by the GDC.
The review hearing will decide on whether or not to terminate the suspension, extend the period of suspension or impose conditions on Professor Lamey’s registration.
The GDC said that until this decision is made Professor Lamey cannot practise dentistry.