Dental Protection has raised concerns about the lack of progress with reform to the GDC’s legislation and has called on the Government to commit to a specific timetable for improving dental regulation.
It also said the Government needs to amend its current proposals for reform in order to safeguard those going through an investigation, especially those without legal representation and those with health concerns.
The comments were made by the Medical Protection Society – of which Dental Protection is part - in response to a DHSC consultation on the legislation to regulate Physician Associates and Anaesthesia Associates. This legislation has broader implications as it is intended to form a blueprint for reforming how other health professions are regulated – eventually including dentists and dental care professionals.
One of the proposals is to introduce so-called ‘accepted outcomes’, where a healthcare professional could avoid having to go through a hearing if they agree with both the investigations’ findings and the proposed sanction.
The defence organisation has raised concerns about the prospect of a regulator being able to impose a sanction – including erasure – in cases where the registrant does not respond within the time period prescribed. It argued that this should not happen as the allegations have not been proved and that in such circumstances the case should instead proceed to a hearing.
It also argued that regulators should be able to continue using a process that is more sensitive to the position of healthcare professionals where there are concerns about their health. Under the proposals, such cases would have to be pursued under the category of “inability to provide care to a sufficient standard” as opposed to “health” as is currently the case. It is feared this approach could add further anxiety and exacerbate any existing health problem.
Dr Raj Rattan, Dental Director at Dental Protection, said: “Dental Protection has long argued for reform to the legislative framework that underpins the GDC. The Dentists Act is now nearly 40 years old. It is outdated and reform is seriously overdue. The GDC should be given more flexibility to streamline its processes, improve efficiency, reduce the number of investigations into less serious allegations and to ensure that investigations conclude more quickly.
“It is concerning that the Government has said it will in the first instance focus on reforms to the GMC, NMC and HCPC, with no commitment made to when dental professionals might finally be able to benefit from reform to their regulator.
“While we have concerns about some of the proposals made, these should be possible to address with small changes and this will surely be possible in the time it takes for legislation to finally be brought forward.
“We will continue to push the Government to publish a specific timetable for GDC reform as soon as possible.”
Notes to editors
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About Dental Protection
Dental Protection is a registered trademark and a trading name of The Medical Protection Society Limited (“MPS”). MPS is the world’s leading protection organisation for doctors, dentists and healthcare professionals. We protect and support the professional interests of more than 300,000 members around the world. Membership provides access to expert advice and support and can also provide, depending on the type of membership required, the right to request indemnity for any complaints or claims arising from professional practice.
Our in-house experts assist with the wide range of legal and ethical problems that arise from professional practice. This can include clinical negligence claims, complaints, medical and dental council inquiries, legal and ethical dilemmas, disciplinary procedures, inquests and fatal accident inquiries.
Our philosophy is to support safe practice in medicine and dentistry by helping to avert problems in the first place. We do this by promoting risk management through our workshops, E-learning, clinical risk assessments, publications, conferences, lectures and presentations.
MPS is not an insurance company. All the benefits of membership of MPS are discretionary as set out in the Memorandum and Articles of Association.