Harpurhey dentist who had affair with patient banned from practising

A tribunal heard Richard Pym, who practised at the Church Lane Dental Practice, in Harpurhey, Manchester, met the woman online in March 2015 

A married dentist who had affair with a woman he met on a dating website has been banned from practising for six months. 

A tribunal heard that Richard Pym, who practised at the Church Lane Dental Practice, in Harpurhey, Manchester, met the woman online in March 2015.

The pair exchanged texts and WhatsApp messages before he realised he had treated her in his dentist’s chair.

But Pym carried on with the exchanges and struck up a sexual relationship while continuing to treat her, the General Dental Council heard. 

Andrew Kennedy, for Pym, told the panel that the dentist was going through difficulties in his family life at the time.

‘The chances that on his first use of a dating website the first thumbnail he would chance on would turn out to be a patient must be infinitesimally small,’ he said.

‘He was going through a prolonged and problematic divorce and he was running a business that was barely wiping its feet.

‘There were issues in his private life and that led to a need, an inappropriate need I accept, for emotional support.’

When he renewed contact for short period the following March, the woman forwarded the messages to his wife.

She eventually made an online complaint to the General Dental Council. 

Pym admitted failing to maintain adequate professional boundaries between himself and the woman dubbed ‘Patient A’ and that his behaviour was sexually motivated. 

Married dentist Pym was later banned for six months over his affair with the patient. 

‘You entered into an inappropriate personal and sexual relationship with Patient A, and is doing so a fundamental line was crossed,’ said GDC panel chair Rashpal Mondair.

‘As her dentist, there was a power imbalance in the relationship.

‘You went on to ignore advice that you should cease the relationship, thereby compounding your wrongdoing.’

He added: ‘You have apologised for your actions and the committee does not doubt the genuineness of your remorse.

‘You have also told the committee about the considerable impact on your family.

‘However, you yourself have stated that the personal struggles you were experiencing at the time that you embarked upon a sexual relationship with Patient A are not yet fully resolved.

‘You described certain matters as being ‘a work in progress’ and acknowledged that you continue to experience personal stressors.

‘The committee has considered how you would cope if the stressors in your life were to return to the levels you experienced in the past.

‘It determined that in the light of the inadequacy of your insight into the seriousness of your misconduct, there remains a real risk of repetition.’

After finding Pym’s fitness to practice was impaired, the panel decided a six-month suspension was the ‘appropriate and proportionate’ punishment.

The dentist was not made subject to any immediate orders meaning he remains free to work for the next month until the ban takes effect allowing time to consider any potential appeals.

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