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Dental helpline - a tough sell for the GDC?

2 October 2015

Dental helpline - a tough sell for the GDC?

Hello readers and welcome to this week’s newsletter. For any of you who missed it, be sure to click this link to view the webinar on the MSc in Restorative and Aesthetic Dentistry. The webinar, done in association with the British Academy of Implant and Restorative Dentistry, addressed management strategies for bruxism and toothwear, and featured a good Q&A at the end which is well worth a look.

And now to news and some interesting news came from Wimpole Street this week. Not in the disproportionate sanction kind of way, but in the actually-quite-thought-provoking and engaging kind of way.

This week, the GDC launched a confidential helpline for dental professionals who feel they may have a concern that they need to raise at work. The General Medical Council have been running a similar service since 2012.

Taking this announcement in isolation, it does seem like a good idea. We all know the vast majority of practitioners do an excellent job and maintain excellent standards. Across the NHS and wider healthcare, however, there has been an urgent need for some time to create an atmosphere where people can raise issues without being “ignored, bullied and intimidated” as has happened in some healthcare settings.

Put this helpline into the context of the GDC’s recent FtP record, however, certainly blurs these lines significantly.

Many in the profession are, to a degree, united by their lack of trust in the GDC and their FtP process. They look to the likes of the Singh case for proof that it’s currently not working in its current state.

The GMC’s confidential helpline led to 71 full investigations over the course of a year, and while many in the dental profession think the last thing we need are more FtP hearings, a sense of perspective on the kinds of hearings this helpline will lead to are needed.  A fellow dental professional would indeed be best placed to notice issues that need raising and it is tempting to suggest that most, if not all, of the investigations that were conducted by the GMC after its receipt of over 1,000 calls meant that the 71 cases warranted further investigation.

The GDC, unfortunately, needs to rebuild faith in its ability to act with proportionately and fairness in these situations. Only then can a confidential helpline for professionals be successful.  It is certainly a good idea, and may lead to achieving some real good, but the GDC must play the long game in waiting to convince the profession it is a regulator that works.

What do you think? As always, be sure to send your thoughts to or leave a comment below. Until next time…

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