12 May 2009
Q. I have read that dental practice websites need to include a link to the General Dental Council website. Is this true?
The Electronic Commerce (EC Directive) Regulations 2002 were designed to protect to the consumer when making choices based on the information published on websites.
Section 6 of the regulations require, amongst other things, that, ‘A person providing an information society service shall make available to the recipient of the service and any relevant enforcement authority, in a form and manner which is easily, directly and permanently accessible, the following information -
(f) where the service provider exercises a regulated profession -
(i) the details of any professional body or similar institution with which the service provider is registered;
(ii) his professional title and the member State where that title has been granted;
(iii) a reference to the professional rules applicable to the service provider in the member State of establishment and the means to access them; .......
In addition, the Code of Ethics for Dentists in the European Union advises that the following information should be mandatory information for a dental practice website.
A dental website must display the following information about the information service provider:
- the name and geographic address at which the service provider is established
- details of the service provider, including e-mail address and telephone number (it may also provide a fax number).
- the professional title and the country from which that title is derived, where appropriate
- licence and registration information, with the address and other contact details of the competent authorities or a link to these authorities' websites, where appropriate.
The legislation is clear but since the EC directive was adopted in 2002 there is little evidence of many professional (doctors, lawyers, architects) websites creating a link to their regulatory body. The GDC may not have a missing link as a high priority to prosecute, but if you do decide to link to their site it would be best to link to the home page because the URL for other pages may change.
The GDC consultation on the principles of ethical advertising closes 1 October 2010. until then draft guidance is available.
If you need more information, members of Dental Protection are invited to speak to one of their 48 dento-legal advisers during office hours by telephoning 0845 608 4000.