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GENERAL DENTAL COUNCIL PROFESSIONAL CONDUCT COMMITTEE July 2010 Nolan, Robert Alan Registration No: 63649 Charge Robert Alan Nolan registered as of 1 Crantock Close, Halewood, Liverpool, L26 0XG; BDS Lpool 1988; was summoned to appear before the Professional Conduct Committee on 22 July 2010 for inquiry into the following charge: That, being a registered Dentist: 1. You failed to co-operate fully with the Council’s investigation into your fitness to practise in that: (a) you were requested by way of letter dated 4th November 2009 from the Council to attend a medical examination; (b) you did not attend a pre-arranged appointment for a medical examination with Dr Audrey Oppenheim, Consultant Psychiatrist, on Saturday 9th January 2010 at 10.00am; (c) you did not make any alternative arrangements to be seen by Dr Audrey Oppenheim. And that in relation to the facts alleged at paragraph 1 above your fitness to practise is impaired by reason of your misconduct. 2. (a) On 25th November 2008, you were tried and convicted at Liverpool Crown Court on 20 counts of obtaining a money transfer by deception, contrary to Section 15A of the Theft Act 1968; (b) you were sentenced on 16th January 2009 to a term of imprisonment of 36 weeks suspended for 18 months, with a community order requirement of 300 hours, a curfew requirement for 3 months and prosecution costs of £1,500.00; And that in relation to the facts alleged at paragraph 2 above your fitness to practise is impaired by reason of your conviction. Findings of fact Mr O’Malley NOLAN, R A Professional Conduct Committee July 2010 Page -1- The Committee has taken into account all the evidence presented to it. It has accepted the advice of the Legal Adviser. In accordance with that advice it has considered each head of charge separately. I will now announce the Committee’s findings in relation to each head of charge: 1(a). Found proved 1(b). Found proved 1(c). Found proved 2(a). Found proved 2(b). Found proved We move to Stage Two. Determination Mr O’Malley Mr Nolan was neither present, nor was he represented at today’s hearing. The Committee was satisfied by a telephone attendance note dated 15 July 2010 and a letter dated 20 July 2010 that Mr Nolan was aware of these proceedings and had voluntarily absented himself. The Committee noted that Mr Nolan had stated in a telephone conversation that he had no objection to the hearing taking place in his absence. The Committee determined that it was reasonable to proceed. The Committee has considered all of the information before it, including the submissions you have made on behalf of the General Dental Council (GDC). It has accepted the advice of the Legal Adviser. Conviction On 25 November 2008 Mr Nolan was convicted on 20 counts of obtaining a money transfer by deception. He was sentenced on 16 January 2009 to a term of imprisonment of 36 weeks suspended for 18 months, with a community order requirement of 300 hours, a curfew requirement for 3 months and prosecution costs of £1500.00. Standards for Dental Professionals states that dentists should: 6.1 Justify the trust that your patients, the public and your colleagues have in you by always acting honestly and fairly. 6.2 Apply these principles to clinical and professional relationships, and any business or educational activities you are involved in. 6.3 Maintain appropriate standards of personal behaviour in all walks of life so that patients have confidence in you and the public have confidence in the dental profession. The public and the profession is entitled to be able to trust a dentist. Mr Nolan’s dishonesty was a fundamental breach of this trust. The Committee finds that Mr Nolan’s fitness to practise is impaired by reason of the conviction. NOLAN, R A Professional Conduct Committee July 2010 Page -2- Misconduct The Committee found that Mr Nolan failed to co-operate fully with an investigation into his fitness to practise relating to health matters. Despite agreeing to attend a medical appointment with Dr Oppenheim, which he confirmed the day before, he failed to attend and did not make any alternative arrangements to be seen by her. The Committee had regard to the standards guidance issued by the GDC, Principles of Raising Concerns, with particular reference to the following: 1.1 The duty to put patients’ interests first and act to protect them must override personal and professional loyalties. 1.3 This responsibility includes making sure that you: co-operate fully with any procedure for investigating concerns which applies to your work. The Committee found that Mr Nolan breached this guidance and that breach constituted misconduct. He is impaired by reason of his misconduct Sanction for Impairment relating to Conviction and Misconduct The Committee was mindful of its duty to act proportionately and to balance Mr Nolan’s interests against the public interest. The Committee was unable to find any evidence of insight on Mr Nolan’s part and there was little in the way of mitigation. The Committee determined that due to the serious nature of Mr Nolan’s misconduct and conviction, it would be inappropriate to conclude the case with or without a reprimand. It next considered conditions, but for the same reasons concluded this would be insufficient. The Committee next considered suspension. It had regard to the sentencing remarks of Judge Morrow, made at Mr Nolan’s conviction hearing in relation to his behaviour: “This was calculated, blatant and persistent dishonesty carried out over a significant period of time. The money which you received dishonestly ought to have been used for patient care and your actions have undermined the public’s confidence in dentists generally to the disadvantage of others who are honest and entirely professional.” The Committee endorses these comments and recognises that, as stated in the Guidance to the Professional Conduct Committee (November 2009): “certain behaviours are so damaging to a registrant’s fitness to practise and to public confidence in dental professionals that removal of their professional status is the appropriate outcome.” The Committee viewed the dishonesty displayed by Mr Nolan’s convictions as behaviour which is incompatible with registration. It bore in mind the comments of Lord Bingham in Bolton v Law Society: NOLAN, R A Professional Conduct Committee July 2010 Page -3- “The reputation of the profession is more important than the fortunes of any individual member. Membership of a profession brings many benefits, but that is a part of the price” In this case the Committee determined that the public interest in maintaining the reputation of the profession outweighs the interests of Mr Nolan. The Committee has determined that suspension would not be the proportionate sanction to address the issues raised by this case. It has therefore determined to erase the name of Robert Alan Nolan from the Dentists Register. The Committee is minded to consider imposing an order for immediate suspension, but first wishes to hear your representations on the matter. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx The Committee has considered your submissions and has concluded that it is necessary in the public interest to impose an order for the immediate suspension of the name of Robert Alan Nolan. The effect of the foregoing direction and order is that Mr Nolan’s name will be suspended from the Dentists Register from when notification is deemed served upon him and, unless he exercises his right of appeal, his name will be erased 28 days from the date of notification. That concludes the case. NOLAN, R A Professional Conduct Committee July 2010 Page -4-
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