I know how dated my mouse mat is because it was issued by the General Dental Council (GDC) with the slogan: Protecting patients, promoting confidence in the dental team. That slogan changed some while ago and nowadays, the slogan is: Protecting patients, regulating the dental team.
I have always liked the fact that one of the functions of the GDC is to uphold the reputation of the dental profession. Principle 9 of the GDC’s Standards for the Dental Team is: Make sure your personal behaviour maintains patient confidence in you and the dental team. You can still potentially find yourself at risk of a letter from the GDC’s disciplinary department, known as Fitness to Practise or FtP, because your behaviour is deemed to be bringing the profession into disrepute.
I have a feeling, and I hope I’m wrong, that the GDC is reviewing this aspect of its remit. My instinct that this particular GDC principle is under scrutiny is based on a talk given by Mike Hill at a recent public event, the Westminster Forum.
Mike is Director of Strategy for the GDC and I’m told he impressed his audience with his reforming zeal. The disciplinary role of the GDC needs overhauling he said. He pointed out that whereas it costs £210 to resolve a complaint to the Dental Complaints Service, the average FtP hearing is £70k. He said that the GDC sent out its Standards to members of the profession but didn’t do much more to embed them.
Among the questions he asked, rhetorically, was: Can we focus more on patient protection and less on protection of the profession’s reputation? I suppose the answer is yes but I feel this would be a retrograde step. I would love to know your thoughts on whether the GDC’s role in maintaining the reputation of the profession is a valuable one?
Meanwhile, at the same meeting, there was a talk from Dr Janet Williamson, deputy Chief Inspector of the Care Quality Commission. I understand that she too spoke passionately about changing the way the CQC operates in the interests of the patients.
A priority is for CQC and other regulators to get better at sharing information to save time and money for all concerned. I am sure all of us in the dental profession would endorse this and applaud the CQC for being in the vanguard.
Apparently, dentistry performs well as far as the CQC is concerned and it won’t be increasing the number of dental practices it inspects. From last year, it has a policy of inspecting just one in ten dental practices.
This is highlighted in a recent column in Dentistry by Kevin Lewis – probably the last column he wrote before stepping down as Dental Director of Dental Protection – with the headline: The Sound of Silence. The point he makes is that the low number of inspections of dental practices by the CQC inspectors is a good news story – but one that has slipped under the radar.