Dental Board of Australia - Dentist fined $30,000 for practising without registration
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Dentist fined $30,000 for practising without registration

13 Jun 2024

A WA dental practitioner has been convicted and fined $30,000 for continuing to practise after allowing his registration to lapse.

The dentist had been sent several email reminders and a text message by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (Ahpra) reminding him to renew his registration. Despite this he continued to work while unregistered for over four months in 2023, before eventually lodging an application to become registered again.

Ahpra protects the public by ensuring that only registered health practitioners who are suitably trained and qualified can claim to be registered. Falsely claiming to be a registered health practitioner or performing a restricted dental act without being registered is a criminal offence under the National Law.

The practitioner pled guilty in the Perth Magistrates Court to five counts of holding himself out as a registered dentist and five counts of performing a restricted dental act (one count for each month in which he practised without registration).

Magistrate Sandra De Maio accepted the practitioner was genuinely remorseful and noted that exceptional circumstances in his family contributed to his failure to apply for registration, and that there had been no complaints about the work performed during the period.

However, her Honour commented that anyone working in a profession like dentistry has an obligation to meet all legal requirements, and it is not sufficient to rely on a practice manager to meet those personal obligations.

In imposing her sentence Magistrate De Maio noted that weight must be placed on general deterrence for the protection of the public. The practitioner was convicted and sentenced to a fine of $30,000, and was ordered to pay an additional $5,000 towards Ahpra’s legal costs.

On 15 May 2024, the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law Application Act 2024 (WA) came into effect which has increased the penalties for these offences to $60,000 and/or 3 years’ imprisonment, bringing the maximum penalties in WA in line with the rest of Australia.

Page reviewed 13/06/2024