A DENTAL firm escaped punishment despite claiming £300,000 for gold crowns and other treatments that were not used on patients.

A senior official at NHS Ayrshire and Arran ruled that Quadrant Dental Practice should face no action – despite one of the dentists admitting in writing to mis-claiming treatment fees from the NHS.

It emerged the health board figure behind that decision – medical director Dr Alison Graham – had previously worked for the father of one of the dentists involved.

Dr Graham and health board chief executive John Burns are said to have “favoured” those accused, and been eager “to dance to the tune of the dentists”.

It came to light following an employment tribunal in Glasgow raised by a former worker at the health board who helped regulate practise and patient care.

May Hendry, 57, of Ayr, won her case for constructive dismissal after she resigned in the wake of an investigation into the dentists.

Speaking after the ruling, Mrs Hendry, represented by Stephen Miller, of Clyde & Co, said the way she had been treated by the health board had been “scandalous” and that she was simply doing her job “protecting patients and the public purse”.

She added: “My job became untenable when the health board was doing nothing to protect me against false allegations, which it knew to be false, and were made against me by two dentists who had findings against them and were trying to avoid any adverse outcome.”

In a written judgment on the case, Judge Lucy Wiseman said the health board’s “desire to appease” the dentists lay at the heart of the case and Mrs Hendry’s mistreatment.

She said: “The [board] appeared to ‘favour’ these dentists, and this was illustrated by the fact there was a complete inability on their part to act robustly.”

The tribunal, which took place in August, heard that in 2013, dentist Donald Morrison raised a number of concerns about an associate from his practice who was leaving to work elsewhere.

However, when a preliminary investigation was carried out, it was revealed there was “widespread mis-claiming” at his surgery in Ayr – including claiming for “precious metals” in crowns when they had not been used.

The judgment states: “There was an indication that in the region of £300,000 had been mis-claimed and that all dentists in the practice, with one exception, were implicated.”

An investigation was launched into Mr Morrison’s working practices but Dr Graham, the medical director of the health board who had previously worked for the dentist’s father – made it clear “there should be no criminal investigation”, despite seeing a letter from Mr Morrison admitting mis-claiming.

The medical director also sought to show the incomplete investigation report to the dentists at the practice before they submitted their responses to the probe.

Mr Morrison made a number of complaints to the health board about Mrs Hendry during the investigation, claiming she was “dishonest and unethical”.

Mr Burns then met with the dentist to discuss these complaints, but no notes were taken and soon after he decided to instruct an external review of dental services – looking at Mrs Hendry and her team.

Meanwhile, another dentist, Michael Morrow, was also being investigated due to concerns about his clinical care and allegations he was restricting NHS work in breach of regulations, meaning patients had to pay for treatment.

He was later referred to the General Dental Council (GDC) where he was issued with a warning.

Judge Wiseman said there was an “unseemly rush” to address the concerns of the dentists, while neglecting Mrs Hendry who received little support from the health board despite no questions over her integrity.

Patricia Leiser, human resources director for the health board, said the board does not comment on individual staffing matters.

She added that responsibility for monitoring and verifying dental payments lies with NHS National Services Scotland.”

Quadrant Dental Practice said Mr Morrison was unavailable for comment.