Page last updated at 13:43 GMT, Friday, 28 November 2008

Urinating dentist ruling upheld

Dental equipment
A further hearing will be held to decide the appropriate sanction

A High Court has upheld a tribunal's findings that a West Yorkshire dentist urinated in his surgery sink before treating a patient.

Alan Hutchinson, who worked at Branch Road Dental Practice in Batley, was struck off the register after a General Dental Council tribunal last April.

He appealed against the ruling claiming he was denied a fair trial.

The court did quash findings Mr Hutchinson used dental instruments to clean his ears and fingernails.

Because he partially won his appeal, the General Dental Council's professional conduct committee must now decide whether the original decision to strike him off should be upheld or a lesser penalty was suitable.

'Insufficient evidence'

Mr Hutchinson denied all the charges against him except allegations of routinely not wearing gloves, due to a latex allergy.

Robert Francis QC, for Mr Hutchinson, argued the evidence against the dentist was "inconsistent and incredible" and should never have been accepted by the council's professional conduct committee.

High Court judge Mr Justice Blair said Mr Hutchinson was accused of using dental excavators and carvers to clean his fingernail and ears.

These instruments were then placed alongside sterilised instruments that were liable to be used on a patient.

Quashing the tribunal's findings on these charges, the judge said that, on the balance of probabilities, there was insufficient evidence to prove the accusations.

Urine smell

But he said the position was different with regard to the finding that Mr Hutchinson had urinated in the surgery's sink.

Dental nurse Claire Pygott had said she was "in no doubt" as to what had occurred.

The judge said Ms Pygott stated when she entered the surgery she smelt urine seconds after seeing Mr Hutchinson "tucking something" into his trousers before seeing a patient in March 2006.

She rejected Mr Hutchinson's claim that what she could smell was X-ray fluid which had been tipped down the sink.

Upholding the committee's findings, the judge ruled its five members had had to decide between two different accounts of what happened and had been entitled to accept the account of the nurse.

The judge sent the case back for a further hearing before a different constituted committee to decide what the appropriate sanction should be.

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