The Health Service Ombudsman has taken the unprecedented step to publicly name a dentist investigated for repeatedly refusing to apologise to a patient.
A woman identified as Mrs D claimed Staffordshire dentist, Rajesh Narendranath, was ‘rude and unprofessional’ and hurt her in 2007.
The Health Service Ombudsman, Ann Abraham, today (9 June) named Mr Narendranath who has repeatedly ignored calls from professional bodies to apologise to a patient following her complaint.
This is the first time Ms Abraham has published a report specifically to alert Parliament to a health care professional’s refusal to put things right following a complaint.
Ms Abraham’s report sets out the findings of her investigation of the patient’s complaint about dentist Rajesh Narendranath (known as Mr Nath), of Stone Family Dental Practice in Stone, Staffordshire.
The patient, Mrs D, complained that Mr Nath had been rough and had hurt her while trying to take X-rays, and also that he had been rude to her when she had objected.
She described leaving the appointment feeling ‘battered emotionally and in more pain’.
Dissatisfied with the response she received from Mr Nath to her complaint, Mrs D escalated it to the Healthcare Commission.
The Healthcare Commission upheld Mrs D’s complaint and told Mr Nath that he should apologise to her.
When Mrs D did not receive this apology, she took the matter further – first to the General Dental Council, who told her they had warned Mr Nath that he should follow the recommendations of professional bodies, and finally to Health Service Ombudsman, Ann Abraham.
The Health Service Ombudsman investigated and upheld Mrs D’s complaint about Mr Nath. She told Mr Nath that he should acknowledge his failings in full and apologise to Mrs D, as the Healthcare Commission had previously directed him to.
She also recommended that Mr Nath pay Mrs D £500 compensation for the feelings of shock and offence she had suffered.
To date, Mr Nath has not complied with these recommendations.
The Health Service Ombudsman normally conducts her investigations in private.
However, because of Mr Nath’s continued failure to put things right for Mrs D, the Ombudsman has published her investigation report, naming him and expressing her ‘disappointment that anyone providing a NHS service can have such disregard for a patient and her complaint’.
She has also taken the step of sharing the findings of her investigation with the General Dental Council who are currently considering what action they may need to take in relation to Mr Nath’s fitness to practise as a dentist.
South Staffordshire Primary Care Trust is also considering what further action to take.
Commenting on her investigation, Ms Abraham said: ‘This complaint should have been very simple and straightforward to resolve. However, Mr Nath’s failure to apologise has prolonged the complaints process and with it the frustration and upset experienced by Mrs D…
‘For anyone who provides a NHS service to ignore recommendations arising from the NHS complaints system is a serious matter. I hope that making this story public provides the catalyst for the dentist to provide the long overdue remedy to Mrs D.’
Following an Investigating Committee meeting, a published warning appeared on the register next to the entry for Rajesh Narendranath (GDC registration number 83942, registered address Stone Dental Practice, Stone). This warning was in place between 20 May 2010 and 19 May 2011.
It stated that Mr Narendranath was warned by the GDC to ensure that in future he has adequate complaints handling protocols in place and these are followed at all times. Mr Narendranath was also warned in future to follow recommendations of professional bodies when issued with them.
The GDC is looking into the issues raised by the report from Ann Abraham, the Health Service Ombudsman, about Mr Rajesh Narendranath.
The GDC regularly works with other organisations such as Primary Care Trusts in these situations. It is not appropriate to comment further until inquiries are complete.