A DENTIST made foul and degrading comments about a patient when she started legal action over botched treatment, a disciplinary hearing has been told.

Leslie Rippon Smith allegedly insulted the married woman and her solicitor and refused to deal with her complaint.

She left his practice in Durham and later discovered he had billed the NHS when she was a private patient, the General Dental Council (GDC) was told.

Mr Smith is also accused of making inappropriate claims for work on more than a dozen patients, and intentionally misleading claims for three others. He allegedly treated many of them when he had no insurance against professional negligence.

Mr Smith, who qualified in Newcastle in 1978, faces a charge of serious professional misconduct.

He admits his record-keeping at the time was "shocking", but denies deliberately making false claims.

He admitted he had no indemnity insurance between June 2001 and June 2002.

He accepted he failed to provide two patients with a treatment plan and did not complete a practice record form to back up the payment.

But he denies the claims were inappropriate, although County Durham and Darlington Health Authority withheld £500 after an inquiry.

It led to the Dental Practice Board examining his records and highlighting claims for work on 13 more patients between January and November 2001. An inquiry in September led to the health authority recommending £3,250 be kept back.

The hearing was told he had been expelled from a private association of dentists known as Denplan after he failed to deal with two patients' complaints.

Mr Smith denies failing to maintain a patient's oral health, and using foul and degrading language on April 28 and May 2, last year.

Mr Smith, of Bridge House, Framwellgate Bridge, Dur-ham, also denies serious professional misconduct.

The hearing continues.