All dentists practising in Wales must ensure that they have registered with Health Inspectorate before they undertake any private dental treatment.
These regulations came into force on 1 January 2009.
The Regulations require dental practitioners in Wales, who provide any non-NHS dental treatment, to register with Healthcare Inspectorate Wales (HIW) under the Care Standards Act 2000. This requirement is additional to any NHS Performers List obligations.
See below for some frequently asked questions about these regulations.
What do the Regulations do?
The Regulations extend the powers provided under the Care Standards Act 2000 to monitor and investigate clinicians in the private sector for the first time. The Regulations provide for a system for the registration, inspection, investigation and enforcement of standards. Practitioners in private practice will be measured against the National Minimum Standards Guidelines which have been made under the Act.
Who needs to register - the practice or the individual dentist?
The Regulations apply to individual dentists. Any dentist who carries out any private dental treatment is required to register.
Will there be practice inspections?
The Regulations establish a framework for the monitoring, inspection and assessment of the quality of the services provided by practitioners. This will be carried out by Healthcare Inspectorate Wales (HIW) which has recently appointed a team of dental advisors to carry out this work. Section 31 of the Act provides wide ranging powers of inspection. The HIW can attend a Practice (such a visit does not need to be announced) and inspect the premises, interview any staff member and to inspect any documents that it wishes to see. They will also assess the practice and the practitioner against the guidelines.
What are the requirements for handling patient complaints?
The registered person must acknowledge receipt of the complaint within 2 working days of receipt.
The registered person/responsible officer must ensure that a written response is sent to the complainant as soon as possible, but no later than 30 working days after receipt of the complaint. This time period may be extended to a specified date upon request by the complainant or with the complainant's agreement.
Where the period is extended under paragraph (5) otherwise than upon request by the complainant the registered person must review the progress of consideration of the complaint at intervals no longer than every 10 days apart after that agreement and notify the complainant of that progress in writing.
The response to the complaint must:
- summarise the nature and substance of the complaint
- describe the action taken to consider the complaint and summarise the conclusions made
- explain what action, if any, will be taken in the light of the complaint.
Where requested to do so by the registration authority, the registered person must provide the registration authority with a copy of the response sent to the complainant.
Dental Protection's advice is that practitioners must have robust complaints handling procedures in place. The time limits for responding to a complaint run from the moment it arrives in the practice. This makes it most important that the complaint is identified and dealt with promptly. Staff should be aware of the urgency of complaints and that a clear line of responsibility for acknowledging the complaint and providing the formal response should be set out in the complaints handling procedure. If a practitioner wishes to seek advice then that decision must be taken, and acted on, at an early stage.
Please contact us for advice in relation to individual complaints
What are the implications for me?
The HIW can cancel a practitioner's registration and thus remove their ability to practise private dentistry. This action can be taken pursuant to Regulation 13, if the practitioner provides false information, or through the operation of Section 20 of the Act, where it is felt that the practitioner poses a serious risk to a person's life, health or well-being. It is conceivable that the HIW may take this step if the practitioner's capacity to provide safe treatment is impaired because of their health or if their practise is seriously deficient.
Is this instead of GDC registration?
No - a dentist's obligation to register with the GDC remains the same.
A failure to comply with the obligations under the Regulations or the Act has the potential to lead to a criminal conviction, civil action or a referral to the GDC.