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Two in five dentists now fearful of investigations arising from Covid-19 disruption

Post date: 18/11/2020 | Time to read article: 3 mins

The information within this article was correct at the time of publishing. Last updated 18/11/2020

Dental Protection is calling on the General Dental Council (GDC) and the Professional Standards Authority (PSA) to do more as fear of investigations arising from Covid-19 and disruption to care, is becoming a growing concern for dentists’ mental wellbeing.

In a Dental Protection survey of nearly 500 UK dentists, conducted during October, 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. This is up from 33% in the May 2020 survey.

This follows reports that 19 million fewer dental treatments - which includes check-ups and appointments for emergency treatment - were offered in England between March and October 2020, compared to the same period in 2019. 

Dental Protection is calling on the GDC to consider guidance for its staff detailing how to take the context created by Covid-19 into account when considering complaints about dentists, similar to that issued by the GMC in September. It is also calling on the PSA, which oversees the work of all professional regulators of healthcare in the UK, to consider more detailed guidance on when an investigation would be conducted or not.

Raj Rattan, Dental Director at Dental Protection said:

“While dental professionals tell us there are a range of issues impacting on their mental wellbeing - from concern for the health of family, friends and colleagues, through to loss of income and adapting to new ways of working – we are particularly concerned to see that fear of regulatory investigation due to Covid-19 disruption has increased since we surveyed our members back in May.

“Dentists remain focused on looking after their patients and providing high quality care. Concerns about the prospect of unfair action being taken against them for decisions taken in circumstances beyond their control is an unnecessary distraction and only exacerbates the stress that many are experiencing at this time.

“We feel the GDC could do more to reassure dentists and reduce the stress this is causing. In September, the GMC issued specific guidance for its staff detailing how to take the context created by Covid-19 into account when considering complaints about doctors. While we have some concerns as to whether this guidance will stand the test of time, it was a welcome gesture and offered much needed reassurance to doctors. The GDC could consider something similar and we will continue to engage with them on this.

“We also believe dentists would welcome clear guidance from the PSA which would demonstrate in greater detail how the regulators will ensure a proportionate approach will be taken down the line. This is important, as it will likely be a number of years before Covid-19 related complaints against dentists might be handled and at this point memories of this difficult time may have faded.

“The prospect of a regulatory investigation down the line is clearly taking its toll on dentists’ mental wellbeing, and we hope that both the GDC and the PSA will consider what more can be done to reassure dentists who are doing their very best for their patients.”

END

Notes to editors

  • The recent survey conducted by Dental Protection ran from 28 September-19 October 2020 and achieved 497 responses from dental members in the UK.
  • The May survey referenced ran from 18-29 May and achieved 506 responses from dental members in the UK.

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For press queries contact: E: ione.gyamfi@medicalprotection.org T: +44 (0) 7525 680165.

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.

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