26 January 2010
Q. I have received a letter from the GDC advising me that my name has been removed from the GDC register for non-payment of my annual retention fee. I have been working without realising that my registration had lapsed and I have now requested a restoration form - is it ok to continue working in the meantime?
Carrying out the practise of dentistry or the business of dentistry when one's name is not included in the GDC Register would be considered to be the illegal practice of dentistry under the provisions of the Dentists Act 1984. It is also a criminal offence. The purpose of having a Register is to reassure members of the public that the names of dentists and DCPs who appear in the Register are not only qualified but are also regulated by the GDC.
It is imperative that, until your name has been restored to the Dentists Register, you do not carry out either the practise of dentistry or the business of dentistry.
In addition to this, you need to be aware that whilst your name is not included in the Dentists Register, you cannot be indemnified. However, should a claim should arise in relation to the advice and treatment that you provided during the time when you were practising without being registered you may apply to Dental Protection for assistance. Dental Protection is a mutual organisation which means that it has the discretion to offer you assistance if it considers there to be extenuating circumstances which contributed to your situation. However, this would need approval from the Board of Directors.
In the meantime you should ensure that you have made the appropriate arrangements for the care of your patients. It is also important that you take all steps to have your name restored to the Dentists Register as soon as possible. This is not an automatic process and the application form requires you to enclose a letter setting out the reason why you were working as a dentist during the time you were not registered with the GDC. You should contact Dental Protection for assistance in relation to this.
The GDC is not interested in any arguments about change of address or delayed cheques. It takes the view that the onus is on the registrant to ensure that their registration is continuous. It is also the registrant's responsibility to check that their application for renewal has actually been processed. Being unaware of lapsed registration is no excuse in the eyes of the GDC and the Law.
The longer a dentist has been practising unregistered, the less likely the GDC is to take a favourable view. Past experience has shown that a dentist who has had previous periods of non-registration is more likely to experience difficulties in having their name restored to the Register.