Ealing Woman's Misery After Botched Dental Treatment

Paid out thousands of pounds and cannot get compensation

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Gemma Stowers, 29, started her private treatment with orthodontist Dr Phillippe Brunelle

Gemma Stowers


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A woman from Ealing has been left with permanent damage to her mouth and is £10,000 out of pocket following botched treatment at the hands of her orthodontist who has now been struck off.

Gemma Stowers, 29, started her private treatment with orthodontist Dr Phillippe Brunelle in August 2007 at a Harley Street clinic.

The television director from Ealing Broadway wanted to have a number of teeth straightened in what seemed to be a routine orthodontic procedure. It should have been a 16-month programme of work but turned into five years of misery.

In May 2011, three years after the start of the treatment programme, Gemma was still wearing braces, suffering from avoidable movement of three teeth, and had severe bone loss around another tooth.

Gemma’s normal dentist arranged for her to go to the Eastman Dental Hospital, one of the UK's leading specialist dental hospitals in Central London, for a second opinion. They told her the work was so shoddy she should consider legal action.

It cost Ms Stowers a further £2000 to get to a point where the braces could be removed and she still requires further remedial treatment and a bone graft before an implant can be put in position.

Dr Brunelle was - at the time of Ms Stowers treatment - insured by one of the largest dental insurers but the insurance company said it would break data protection laws for them to get involved without authorisation.

The dentist did not give permission, has since gone bankrupt and is no longer practising – making it impossible to even bring a civil claim against him.

Ms Stowers says: “I am owed at least £10,000 which is what I have spent on the original treatment, work done to put his mistakes right, and all the procedures needed to fill in the gap left from the wholly unnecessary extraction.

“That does not even begin to cover any compensation which I am owed for wearing painful and ugly fixed metal braces for so many years. I do not have any more money to sort things out. I am very angry. He has taken no responsibility for his actions and I have nowhere to go now. He took the money, really damaged my teeth and ran. I feel robbed.”

While European legislation is due in October this year, which looks likely to make sure that all dental practitioners are insured by law, insurance companies can still be unco-operative.

Bridge The Gap is a group campaigning for better dental patient protection. Spokesperson Chris Dean said: “We will fight on for that particular obligation which is about doing the right thing for patients and ensuring they have access to justice.”

Dr Brunelle recently appeared before the General Dental Council (GDC) following allegations that he has worked at various points without any insurance. The professional committee found that he fell below the standards expected and struck him off.

He has 28 days to appeal.

6th March 2013

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