The General Dental Council is highlighting the importance of buying safe, legitimate equipment after a Dentist was suspended for three months for repeatedly buying counterfeit items online.
At a hearing this month, Hamza Tahir Sheikh admitted to buying non-compliant and counterfeit dental equipment from an online auction website. The equipment included five Yabangbang contra angle fibre optic handpieces, a NSK S Max SG 20 reduction 20:1 handpiece and one Skysea dental handpiece. These pieces of equipment, which he purchased to treat his patients with, were counterfeit and non-compliant – which means that while they may look like a branded product, they are not, and will not be tested to the relevant safety standards.
The equipment was seized following two separate inspections carried out by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) at Mr Sheikh’s practice. The MHRA regulate medicines, medical devices and blood components for transfusion in the UK.
A Fitness to Practise investigation was conducted by the General Dental Council and was heard by the Professional Conduct Committee (PCC) on 7th July, where Hamza Tahir Sheikh admitted to a number of allegations relating to the purchase of the equipment.
Mr Sheikh provided a reflective statement to the Committee which focussed on, and addressed, some of the issues which concerned the Council, including his insight. Mr Sheikh said that he had realised his mistakes, had undertook learning to improve his – and his staff’s - knowledge about compliant equipment and now keeps an inventory of all purchases. A spokesperson for the PCC said: “You have shown considerable insight into the findings made against you and have taken sufficient steps to reassure the Committee that a risk of repetition is unlikely.
“Furthermore, the Committee noted that no concerns have been raised about your skills and competence as a clinician. On the contrary, the Committee heard very positive evidence about your character and practice as a Dentist.
“In all the circumstances, the Committee has determined to suspend your registration for a period of three months. In deciding on this period, the Committee took into account that it has no ongoing concerns about public safety.”
Mr Sheikh will not be able to work as a dentist until the three-month suspension period has concluded.
Jonathan Green, Director of Fitness to Practise at the General Dental Council, said: “This case shows the importance of Dentists and DCPs adhering to the standards around compliant dental equipment. Non-compliant equipment endangers the health of both the patient and those using it and it is vital that all items meet safety requirements.
“As set out in our Standards for Dental Professionals, all members of the dental team must understand and follow the law and regulations in this important area, which go to the heart of patient protection. They must always put patients’ interests first.”.
Alastair Jeffrey, Head of Enforcement, at the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), said: “MHRA is responsible for protecting public health and we have seen a worrying trend in the number of websites and online market places offering to supply dentists with non-compliant/counterfeit and potentially dangerous equipment. Dental patients are entitled to expect quality care, including the standard of the instruments and devices used by dental professionals.
“It is vital that dentists and dental staff buy equipment from bona fide suppliers and avoid non-compliant or counterfeit devices. I urge all dental professionals to be cautious of seemingly cheap devices which may be unfit for purpose and potentially dangerous to patients and the staff that use them.”
The British Dental Industry Association (BDIA), representing the dental industry in the UK, runs a counterfeit and sub-standard instruments and devices initiative highlighting to dental professionals the dangers of using fake and illegal dental instruments, in partnership with the MHRA. The BDIA also offers helpful advice of what dental professionals should do if they come across counterfeit equipment, or if they know another professional who is using them, and publishes a list of its member suppliers which is available here.
Edmund Proffitt, BDIA Chief Executive, said: “The recent GDC hearing is a stark reminder of the seriousness of using of counterfeit dental devices. It may also sound alarm bells for any dentists who may have purchased from unreliable sources and emphasises the importance of purchasing from reputable suppliers.”