Northern Ireland

117 dental patients recalled as consultant 'removed'

A senior consultant has been removed from his job at Belfast's Royal School of Dentistry following serious concerns about his work.

It follows the recall of 117 dental patients for check-ups after a review of his performance.

Eighteen patients considered urgent cases have already been treated. Four in the urgent category have since died.

The Belfast trust will not confirm whether a late cancer diagnosis may have contributed to their deaths.

Trust Medical Director Dr Tony Stevens said people should not be alarmed.

He told the BBC: "We identified 18 patients in this exercise that we had concerns about. Some of those patients have cancer. Not all have cancer and some of those patients may have had a late diagnosis.

"Four of those patients have died. Some of those patients had a late diagnosis but it is impossible to say whether that contributed to it."

Dr Stevens said problems with the care administered by the dentist came to light in late 2009 but he was not removed from his post until the end of last year.

The consultant has now been reported to the General Medical and Dental Councils.

The trust said the recalls of 117 patients were "a precautionary measure".

The BBC understands that Health Minister Michael McGimpsey is to meet the chair and vice chair of the Health committee on Monday.

He is also expected to make a statement to the Assembly.

Dr Stevens added: "Anyone who needs to be contacted has already been sent a letter and all of these will have been delivered by tomorrow (Saturday)," he said.

The trust is also providing a helpline which will be open from 1700 GMT until 1900 GMT on Friday and from 0900 GMT to 1800 GMT after that. The telephone number is 028 9063 6330.

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