24 September 2013
Q. What information must be published on a dental practice website in the UK?
1.3.3 of Standards for the Dental Team states that:
‘You must make sure that any advertising, promotional material or other information that you produce is accurate and not misleading, and complies with the GDC’s guidance on ethical advertising.’
All information or publicity material regarding dental services should be legal, decent, honest and truthful. Your advertising can provide of information to help patients make informed choices about their dental care. Advertising that is false, misleading or has the potential to mislead, is unprofessional and could be a criminal offence.
Misleading claims can make it more difficult for patients to choose a dental professional or dental services and can raise expectations which cannot be fulfilled. You must be honest in the presentation of your skills and qualifications.
i) ensure information is current and accurate;
ii) make sure that your GDC registration number is included;
iii) use clear language that patients are likely to understand;
iv) back up claims with facts;
v) avoid ambiguous statements; and
vi) avoid statements or claims intended or likely to create an unjustified expectation about the results you can achieve.
You must make clear in advertisements and other practice publicity whether the practice is NHS (or equivalent health service), mixed or wholly private.
The GDC has aligned its guidance on websites to reflect the Code of Ethics for Dentists in the EU for Electronic Commerce European which is contained in EU Manual of Dental Practice published by the Council of European Dentists.
Dental professionals mentioned on the practice website
Every registrant who provides dental treatment at the practice must have the following information displayed against the name:
i) their professional qualification and the country from which that qualification is derived; and
ii) their GDC registration number.
Dental practice websites must display the following information:
i) the name and geographic address at which the dental service is established;
ii) contact details of the dental service, including e-mail address and telephone number;
iii) the GDC’s address and other contact details, or a link to the GDC website;
iv) details of the practice’s complaints procedure and information of who patients may contact if they are not satisfied with the response (namely the relevant NHS body for NHS treatment and the Dental Complaints Service for private treatment); and
v) the date the website was last updated.
The website should be updated regularly to show personnel at the practice and the service(s) offered. The website must not display information comparing the skills or qualifications of any dental professional providing any service with the skills and qualifications of other dental professionals.
A dentist who is on a GDC specialist list you can use the title ‘Specialist’ or be described as a ‘specialist in….’
Dentists who are not on any GDC specialist list must not use titles which could imply specialist status such as orthodontist, periodontist, endodontist etc.
Individuals who are not on any specialist list must not describe themselves as ‘specialising in…’ a particular form of treatment but they may use the terms ‘special interest in..’, ‘experienced in..’ or ‘practice limited to..’.
It remains the responsibility of individual registrants to ensure that any information published about them on any website, in their role as a registrant, conforms to the latest GDC guidance. Members of Dental Protection are advised to check any information they publish themselves or which has been published by their practice, or any other place where they work, to ensure that it conforms to the latest guidance. This applies to websites as well as any other form of advertising or publicity material.
In particular members are advised to check the six points listed above under advertising services.