Call for inquiry into dentist’s suicide

The coroner at an inquest into the death of Dr Anand Kamath, which concluded in Wakefield earlier this week, recorded a verdict of suicide, having heard that Dr Kamath had felt harassed and bullied by his primary care trust (PCT).

Dr Kamath was the subject of an investigation by Airedale, Bradford and Leeds PCT following allegations of poor record keeping at the practice he ran with his wife, and was being threatened with being reported to the General Dental Council, the inquest heard.

His suicide occurred just five days after a meeting with PCT officials.

In a letter to Earl Howe, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health in England, the BDA is also calling for consideration to be given to current contracts where dentists are finding themselves under unreasonable pressure because of inappropriate commissioning by the now defunct PCTs.

Additionally, it is seeking assurances that their successors in the restructured NHS, the new Area Teams, will adopt a proportionate approach in their dealings with practitioners.

Dr John Milne, chair of the BDA’s general dental practice committee, said: 'The sad death of Dr Kamath is not the first suicide by a dentist under pressure in this way, but it must be the last. It is important that an independent inquiry looks closely at these events and how investigations are carried out.

'Government must also look at the general approach of primary care organisations and ensure that their commissioning and oversight duties are performed reasonably and responsibly, with regard for the wellbeing of practitioners and ensuring that workloads do not adversely affect practitioners’ health.

'In the rare cases where the investigation of allegations against practitioners does become necessary, it is important that available support is clearly signposted.'

Dr Milne warned in June 2012 that bullying behaviour by PCTs was unacceptable.

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