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Ministry Takes Action Against Non-Licence Holders

TWO Wanganui dentists have been convicted of breaching the Radiation Protection Act.

The Ministry of Health prosecuted the two dentists after they used x-ray machines without holding the appropriate licences.

David Francis Evans and Raymond William Hutchinson pleaded guilty and were convicted and discharged in the Wanganui District Court on Monday, December 6. The maximum fine for their offences was $10,000.

The two charges Evans and Hutchinson faced were using irradiating apparatus without a licence and failing to respond to questions by the National Radiation Laboratory, pursuant to Regulation 17 or the Radiation Protection Regulations.

The charges were laid when the dentists failed to apply for the renewal of their annual licences as an apparant protest over recent increases in fees.

All users of irradiating apparatus and radioactive materials are required to be licensed under the provisions of the Radiation Protection Act. The fees payable for licences increased on 1 January 1999 as a result of the first fully costed revision since 1988, and the first based upon current Audit Office Guidelines.

Ministry of Health Enforcement Officer, Stephen Anthony, said the fee payable for dental licences had increased from $50 to $190 ( GST inclusive ).

"For the average dentist carrying out about 3000 x-rays annually, the increase amounts to an extra five cents per x-ray.

"Licensing under the Radiation Protection Act assures patients that only competent people may use irradiating apparatus. It is also the means by which importation, sale and disposal is controlled. Unlicensed users place the integrity of our radiation safety infrastructure at risk."

Mr Anthony said the Ministry was investigating a handful of other users of irradiating apparatus who were in possible breach of the provisions of the Act. It was too early to say whether charges would result, he said.


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