Dental Protection has welcomed a statement by the GDC which reiterates its commitment to take the Covid-19 pandemic context into account when assessing complaints that are raised about dental professionals.
The statement, which was also signed by the GMC and a number of other health and social care regulators, follows a similar joint statement issued near the start of the pandemic.
It acknowledges that the individuals on the registers “may feel anxious about how context is taken into account when concerns are raised about their decisions and actions in very challenging circumstances” and confirms that where a concern is raised about a registered professional, it will always be considered on the specific facts of the case, taking into account the factors relevant to the environment in which the professional is working. It says any relevant information about resource, guidelines or protocols in place at the time would also be taken into account.
Separately, the GDC has also developed supplementary advice to support case examiners in considering factors relating to the impact of Covid-19 on a dental professional’s ability to deliver care.
Dental Protection said the renewed GDC commitment would be well received, but must stand the test of time. A survey of the organisation’s members showed that two in five dentists (40%) said fear of investigations arising from difficult decisions made during Covid-19, or disruption to care, was having most impact on their mental wellbeing.
Raj Rattan, Dental Director at Dental Protection said:
“We are pleased that the GDC, alongside other health and social care regulators, has taken this step to again reassure dental professionals.
“Throughout this period, dental professionals have told us about a range of issues that have been impacting their mental wellbeing - from concern for their patients, the health of their family, friends and colleagues, the impact of loss of income, and the challenges of adapting to new ways of working.
“There has been a growing concern about the risk of regulatory investigation, and how actions and clinical interventions may be perceived in any future investigation if insufficient consideration is given to the impact of the pandemic. The risk is that hindsight bias is real because memories fade over time and it is important to safeguard against this.
“Ongoing reassurance from the GDC on how the context of the Covid-19 pandemic will be taken into account, alongside the supplementary advice developed for its case examiners, will therefore go some way towards easing these fears and we are glad the GDC have heeded our calls for this.
“Recognising that by the very nature of dental care, a complaint and subsequent investigation can arise several years after the event, it is crucial that the GDC’s guidance stands the test of time, lest the very real pressures of the Covid-19 pandemic and the ensuing disruption of care be forgotten.
“We will continue to monitor this closely to ensure that dental professionals are protected.”
Notes to editors
- The survey conducted by Dental Protection ran from 28 September-19 October 2020 and achieved 497 responses from dental members in the UK.
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.