More than 1,000 patients of a disgraced Ulster dentist have not registered with another practitioner since he was struck off for serious professional misconduct, it can be revealed today.
The Belfast Telegraph can also reveal that Health Minister Paul Goggins does not intend holding an independent review into the handling of investigations into the conduct of dentist George Bruce Kelso.
It has emerged that Kelso earned nearly £600,000 from the NHS in just five years despite concerns having been raised over his practice and provision of care.
These latest revelations follow our exclusive story last month when we revealed that the PSNI were examining allegations of fraud against Kelso.
Kelso, who has a home in Greyabbey but is now believed to be living in France, was suspended in April last year following an investigation by the Preliminary Proceedings Committee of the General Dental Council.
Using the Freedom of Information Act, the Telegraph learned concerns over his practice were raised as far back as 1998 - nearly seven years before he was suspended and eight years before he was struck off.
In addition, two investigations, one by the Central Services Agency (a Department of Health-associated body) were commissioned by the Eastern Health Board, and the findings passed to the Board in August 1999. These findings were then reported to the then RUC, but at that stage do not appear to have been passed on to the General Dental Council - the organisation that regulates dental professionals in the UK.
Kelso's case was referred to the RUC in 1999 as fraud was suspected. The PSNI decided in 2002 not to pursue the case further.
Before being struck off nearly three months ago, the GDC heard how the 53-year-old had conned the NHS into funding expensive treatment for fictitious patients and submitted X-rays of teeth under the names of imaginary clients to falsely claim cash.
In respect of 13 patients, the council was told that claims had been "inappropriate, misleading and dishonest".
And records for nearly 200 patients fell well below the standard of a professional dentist.
As a result of a series of parliamentary written questions from DUP MP Iris Robinson, it can be revealed today that Kelso's health service earnings for 2004-05 were £109,609.67; for 2003-04 they amounted to £122,546.88l; 2002-03, £117,200.41; 2001-02, £113,540.76 and 2000-01, £117,288.55.
Of that total Central Services Agency records from this month indicate that 1,077 of Mr. Kelso's patients have not registered with another dentist.
In reply to the questions, Mr Goggins said the CSA assisted the Eastern Health Board by compiling all the available records, reports, correspondence, claims and radiographs into a single master file in electronic format.