The Stoke Dental Centre on Main Rd Stoke is now closed and its owner is no longer a registered dentist.

Mum loses money after dentist closes

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A Nelson mother with at least $600 worth of credit with her local dentist is battling to get her money back after the business closed its doors, leaving no contact details.

Stacey didn’t want her last name printed but says she had an automatic payment set up with Stoke Dental Centre, which was owned by Dr Nicolas Smith. She says she called the clinic last week to book an appointment, knowing that she had a credit with the dentist, only to get an answerphone message telling her that the business had closed and referring her to another dentist.

“It took me a long time to save and had I not rung, my automatic payment would have kept going, no one told me to stop it.”

Stacey set up the automatic payment for on-going dental work and says she was “gutted” to hear that her money would probably be lost. “My new dentist said he went into liquidation and that I probably wouldn’t get my money back. I have three kids, a mortgage. My husband and I both work, I work six days, I’m trying to be a responsible adult by saving up and then something like this happens.”

The chief executive of the Dental Council, Marie Warner, says the council received a request from Dr Smith on November 3 to be removed from the dental register, but she didn’t have any more information.

“Our understanding from local dental practitioners in Nelson is that Dr Smith has closed his practice and that Dr Graham Leathley, general dentist of Richmond Dental Centre has offered to be an initial point of contact for former patients of Dr Smith who are under active treatment.”

She says those who are unhappy about owed money should contact the disputes tribunal.

Nelson Weekly tried to contact Dr Smith, but had no luck.

Earlier this year he had a government contract to treat children and adolescents revoked after concerns about the standard of care he was providing.

In 2001, he was convicted of defrauding the government by $40,000, claiming for work he had not done.

In 2013 he had a condition attached to his practising certificate, preventing him from doing endodontic work and requiring him to refer any patient needing it to another dentist.