Ethics in dentistry: Dentist makes racist remarks during panel hearing
LONDON, UK: Questionable standards of conduct among dental professionals jeopardise both patient safety and the integrity of the dental profession, especially when racial discrimination is involved. Unfortunately, inappropriate behaviour among dentists does exist and can take years to come to light. Just recently, one specific case attracted close media attention when a dentist and chair of the Professional Conduct Committee of the General Dental Council (GDC) made racist remarks directed at dentists during a panel hearing at which he was officiating.
According to various sources, registered dentist Dr Rashpal Singh Mondair stated, during a panel meeting in August 2018, that he would not want to be treated by an African dentist. According to witness accounts, Mondair expressed similar opinions about dentists from Eastern Europe and Asia. Needless to say, the racist remarks left the majority of his colleagues puzzled and deeply shocked, especially since the remarks came from someone who was in a position to question the standards of behaviour of other dentists.
After the remarks were made, the committee openly condemned Mondair’s behaviour, saying that it had “fallen far short of the standards of conduct that are proper in these circumstances” and that it threatened the integrity and fairness of the decision-making process. As a consequence, Mondair was dismissed from his role as chair of the Professional Conduct Committee and suspended for six months.
“We took immediate action that same day to suspend the hearing of the case Mr Mondair was adjudicating and took immediate steps to ensure that he did not sit in any further cases,” the GDC said in a press release. “Behaviour of that kind is unacceptable from anybody, yet still more so from somebody in a position of trust involved in making judgements about the professional behaviour of others.”
The GDC commented that this sort of behaviour is not tolerated in dentistry and that there is no place for discrimination in any professional regulation, and as a result, referred Mondair for a fitness to practise examination. “We are not complacent and are well aware that racism and other forms of discrimination are still very real in dentistry, as they are across society. But we are fully committed to ensuring that our regulatory activity is as fair as we can make it, and this demonstrates our making that commitment real,” it commented.
“We are fully committed to ensuring that our regulatory activity is as fair as we can make it”
— General Dental Council
After the news, the British Dental Association (BDA) urged the GDC to ensure that it “offers meaningful protection” to all registrants and that the treatment is fair and equitable for all dental professionals. Dr Shareena Ilyas, who is chair of the BDA’s Education, Ethics and the Dental Team Working Group, called Mondair’s comments “sickening” and stated that discrimination is unacceptable in the dental profession.
Commenting on GDC’s response to the racist remarks, Ilyas noted that the organisation had followed the right course of action but added that dental professionals are now questioning the impartiality of its previous decisions.
“An individual harbouring poisonous views was free to hold a privileged position at a health watchdog. Ethnic minority dentists are already more likely to expect referrals from patients. We need cast-iron assurances that safeguards are now in place to ensure fair treatment for all when complaints reach the GDC,” she concluded.