18 Dec 2020

Closure of the No Brace Centre in August 2019

Melbourne dental clinic No Brace Centre closed on Friday 30 August 2019 without prior notice.

Clients of the clinic were unable to directly resolve enquiries or complaints about outstanding treatment or prepaid fees, or obtain access to their health records.

The office of the Health Complaints Commissioner (HCC) is an independent and impartial statutory body that resolves complaints about the provision of health services and the handling of health information in Victoria. The HCC received more than 200 enquiries and complaints from clients of the No Brace Centre following its closure.

On 4 September 2019, the Supreme Court of Victoria appointed Justin Howlett of SMB Advisory (03 9600 2100) as liquidator of the No Brace Centre, taking control of the business and its finances.

In December 2019, the health records previously held by the No Brace Centre were acquired by Dentology Dental Care (Dentology) under a formal legal acquisition through the liquidator. For more information, see accessing No Brace Centre's health records below.

The HCC administers the Health Records Act 2001 which sets out the legal framework for the handling of health information in Victoria.

Is a refund available for unfinished treatment?

The HCC is an independent and impartial statutory body that resolves complaints about the provision of health services and the handling of health information in Victoria. The HCC offers a free alternative to legal proceedings through a voluntary complaint resolution process. We cannot force providers to participate in the complaint resolution process.

As the No Brace Centre was liquidated, there is no reasonable prospect of complaints about refunds being resolved through the HCC’s complaint resolution process. The HCC will not be able to deal with complaints about refunds by the No Brace Centre for unfinished treatment.

The liquidator has advised that distribution has been finalised, therefore the liquidator is not able to assist with the refund of fees.

Background

Accessing No Brace Centre’s health records

In December 2019, the health records previously held by the No Brace Centre were acquired by Dentology Dental Care (Dentology) under a formal legal acquisition through the liquidator. Dentology is located at 130 Nepean Highway, Aspendale, VIC 3195 and their website is dentologydentalcare.com.au

  • In the case of former patients of the No Brace Centre who became patients of Dentology, no action was required as Dentology took possession of their records.
  • For former patients of the No Brace Centre who were not being treated by Dentology, until September 2020, patients could ask their new dentist to request that Dentology transfer their records to the new dentist. Dentology processed these requests in accordance with the Health Records Act 2001.

The current situation is that Dentology no longer holds the health records of former No Brace Centre patients and these records are no longer accessible.

The HCC has powers to investigate health service providers. Will the HCC investigate No Brace Centre?

The HCC may conduct an investigation if the Commissioner reasonably believes that the complaint should be investigated and if certain other criteria under the Health Complaints Act 2016 are met. In deciding whether to conduct an investigation, the Commissioner will have regard to all relevant considerations, including any risk to the health, safety or welfare of the public and whether an investigation is likely to result in recommendations that may lead to better outcomes for consumers of health services.

In 2019, the Health Complaints Commissioner Karen Cusack stated that, as the No Brace Centre has been liquidated and is no longer providing a health service, she did not intend to conduct an investigation.

Is Ari Masters, the owner of the No Brace Centre, still able to practice as a dentist in Australia?

No. Ari Masters is no longer registered with the Australian Health Practitioner Registration Agency (Ahpra).

Who should I contact for more information about my legal options?

The HCC is an independent and impartial statutory body that resolves complaints about the provision of health services and the handling of health information in Victoria. The HCC offers a free alternative to legal proceedings through a voluntary complaint resolution process. Participation in the complaints process is voluntary for patients/clients and health service providers.

For more information about legal options, visit the Federation of Community Legal Centre’s website at fclc.org.au to find your nearest community legal centre, or contact the Law Institute of Victoria to access its legal referral service at: www.liv.asn.au/find-a-lawyer