Hello readers and welcome to this week’s newsletter. We are delighted to bring you a special feature in this week’s edition and it concerns a topic on the mind of everyone in the dental community at the moment. There are many in the dental profession who feel that the GDC is failing in its current state. For those who may not have thought it could get much worse, last week saw two more incredibly damaging issues come to light about the regulator’s conduct.
Not only was it named the worst performing regulator by the Professional Standards Authority, its own Professional Conduct Committee sharply criticised the way it operates its Fitness to Practise process, saying that there had been “multiple, repeated and very serious failings in fairly prosecuting the case.” The problem at this stage is that dental professionals no longer seem surprised when conduct like this comes to light.
That is certainly not to say that the dental community is taking things lying down, however. In the face of the “egregious” FtP process, amid numerous other failings, the profession is uniting in a way that is unprecedented and in a manner that may, finally, bring about real change with the regulator.
We caught up with two such dental professionals who have taken very real steps to helping their fellow dentists fight back against a regulator which has the ability, to quote one of the dentists in question, “to shake off mud like a Teflon coated rhino.”
So how are they doing it?
The main focus for Duncan Scorgie and Keith Hayes is to support fellow professionals who are unfortunate enough to be on the receiving end of the GDC’s fitness to practice process. As Duncan explains: “Dentists are held to an extremely high standard which is unachievable and unfeasible within general practice. Not only that, these rules are arbitrarily applied.”
Keith echoed these sentiments, adding: “they do not act with proportionality or fairness and do not uphold the same principles they expect from registrants. They seem to have little insight into the degree of trauma they inflict on a young professional who has been accused of actions which almost certainly have never taken place.”
Both men are committed to creating a fund whereby dentists, who have to face vexatious claims, as well as being hauled for an FtP hearing, are able to successfully navigate this difficult process. Duncan has helped set up a website (www.fairnessfordentists.com) which will help to support dental professionals who find themselves on the end of a fictitious or vexatious claim, in order to help them seek redress for the enormous emotional or financial toll that these proceedings can take.
Keith, meanwhile, is using his own business which specialises in helping practices prepare for CQC inspections, RightPath4, to help support dentists looking to cover the cost of tackling the GDC. “Because use of this system will also help safeguard against some aspects of the GDC,” he described, “I felt it was entirely appropriate to offer this package to as many practices as possible and to donate 40% of the proceeds towards supporting dentists to bring pressure upon the GDC where is has been grossly disproportionate… We now have hundreds of practices using our system and this has contributed over £10,000 in the past 3 months.”
Work like this can certainly galvanise the profession and, if projects and others like it are successful, it may not be long until dentists will be granted what many of them seek: a fair, proportionate regulator which is able to protect them and protect patients, alike. For more info, be sure to check out the in-depth article on the work of Keith and Duncan, here.
We have approached the GDC for comment on the issue, and they declined to comment.
What do you think? Do you support these endeavours? Can the profession successfully take on the GDC? Comment below, or send us your thoughts here.