A NEWPORT dentist has been suspended for 18 months following allegations of inappropriate behaviour towards staff and patients.

John Lewis Alexander, of Portman Dental Care, formerly Pembrokeshire Dental Centre, was suspended at the June 10 meeting of the General Dental Council Interim Orders Committee.

The role of the committee is to assess the nature and substance of any risk to the public.

No formal legal charges have been made against Dr Alexander.

At the hearing, Vanya Headley of the GDC’s in-house prosecution service said it was investigating a complaint received on February 4, 2019, from previous employers, Portman Dental Care.

During the hearing, allegations were made that Dr Alexander inappropriately touched female members of staff at the practice, as well as invading their personal space and sending inappropriate text messages.

The practice also raised concerns that staff members had witnessed him inappropriately touching female patients when carrying out treatment, as well as making personal and inappropriate comments to them.

It is also alleged that he required a patient to remove items of clothing when carrying out treatment such as acupuncture.

He was suspended from the practice in December 2018 pending an internal investigation and later dismissed on January 17, 2019.

Ms Headley invited the committee to consider the repeated nature of the incidents over a lengthy period.

Dr Alexander stated that he had been in general practice for 44 years, and part of a very small community for 54 years, and had built up a very loyal base of patients, with no previous suggestions of inappropriate behaviour or comments made against him.

He said that one of the alleged victims has previously expressed that he was the most ethical dentist she had ever known.

Dr Alexander stated he had always been friendly to both staff and patients, describing his past behaviour as a sign of friendliness, adding he was not a predator nor a threat to the public.

During the time of the alleged incidents, Dr Alexander said he had recently sold the practice to Portman Dental Care, who became his employer, leading to ongoing financial and legal disputes.

He said that, following the sale of the practice, the allegations suddenly appeared.

Dr Alexander told the hearing he has now retired and has no intention of going back to dentistry, making any suspension a formality.

In making the interim order, the committee stated: “The allegations involve consistent and unwelcome attention towards colleagues, inappropriate touching of staff and patients, and sexual innuendo towards both staff and patients.

“The committee was satisfied on the basis of the information provided to it today, and the seriousness of the allegations that you currently represent a real risk of harm to patients and staff.

“Therefore, the committee determined that the necessity test required to impose an order is met in the circumstances of this case.

“It concludes, therefore, that despite the impact on your reputation as a dentist, an interim order of suspension would not be disproportionate.

“The committee is satisfied that this period of time should give the GDC sufficient time to carry out its investigations into this case.”