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Dentist Regulation in the UK
The dental sector in the UK is distinctive when it comes to regulatory constraints, and it is important when operating in this industry to be clear on your duties and obligations which are set down by the General Dental Council (GDC).
It is a legal requirement that all dentists, dental technicians, clinical dental technicians, dental hygienists, dental therapists, orthodontic therapists and dental nurses are registered with the GDC whether in private practice or under NHS contract: without such registration, it would be illegal to operate in the UK.
Due to the complex nature of dentist regulation, and the seriousness of the repercussions of falling foul of it, it is highly recommended that anyone operating in this area seeks the advice of specialist dental regulation solicitors to ensure compliance in every aspect.
What aspects of dentistry does the GDC regulate?
The GDC has the responsibility of setting regulatory standards for conduct and performance, and pursuing action for breach of those standards. They will deal with complaints from patients, the public, the NHS, other professionals and the police, and investigate any allegations of criminal behaviour. GDC responsibilities also extend to making sure dental education is up to the mark, galvanising patient protection and making decisions on the capability to practice of those professionals who are suffering from ill health.
If it can be proved that a GDC member’s behaviour makes them unsuitable to stay on the register, then they may be removed.
What can I do if I am being investigated by the GDC?
The GDC will investigate any instances of criminal behaviour, poor handling of complaints, unsatisfactory performance and issues surrounding professional conduct – including cautions and convictions – as well as matters relating to health, including both physical and mental, that could impair ability to practice. Dental technicians may also be investigated if there is a complaint concerning the construction of a device.
The most important thing to remember if you have received any form of notice of investigation from the GDC is to seek specialist guidance from dentist regulation solicitors before responding. It can be easy to unwittingly bias a case without first taking advice and the solicitor will be aware of the best route to follow in order to protect your interests.
In some cases it may be in your best interests to not make a formal response, and your solicitor will use their expertise and experience to advise you on the best course of action depending on your individual circumstances. If you do think about responding then you should inform your insurer without delay.
Your solicitor will guide you through every step and provide representation before any of the committees your case is referred to (i.e. the Professional Conduct Committee [PCC], the Professional Performance Committee [PPC] or the Health Committee [HC]). If it is decided that your fitness to practise is impaired, dental regulation solicitors will assist you in handling any reprimand issued or special conditions set down.
In some cases it will be possible to appeal a decision, and again your solicitor will advise you on whether such an appeal will be successful and if so, guide you through the process.
What are the main aspects of dental regulation that HCB can help me with?
Our dentist regulation solicitors have a proven track record of successfully representing dental professionals who are facing disciplinary proceedings before the GDC for a range of matters including alleged professional misconduct, inadequate treatment and poor performance.
We are able to advise dental practitioners who have been removed from the General Dental Council Register or Dental Performers List, those who have been suspended and those facing allegations of fraud and breach of NHS contract.
If you are experiencing issues over professional registration, or are in dispute with the GDC over a dental regulation matter, you can rely upon the expertise of our specialists to help resolve the matters swiftly and efficiently whilst aiming to preserve good relations with the regulator. We are also highly experienced in representing dental professionals at a variety of hearings including PCC and PPC.
In many cases we have been able to settle disagreements early on and mitigate the action taken by the GDC. We also work closely on an ongoing basis with dental practices to help them ensure they are staying within the confines of regulatory constraints in all they do, whether that is in managing contracts, taking on new staff, arranging training or making any other decisions that would be governed by dental regulation.
Here to help
If you are facing issues over dental regulation, please waste no time in making contact with one of the respected dental regulation solicitors at HCB. We fully appreciate the sensitivity of these matters and the far-reaching consequences, as well as the urgency required in dealing with them and the importance of maintaining good relations with your regulators. Your career is as important to us as it is to you, and you’ll find our advice fully tailored to your individual circumstances. Get in touch today and we can start doing whatever we can to resolve these issues on your behalf.