The General Dental Council (GDC) has warned that any dental nurses or technicians hoping to get round the new registration laws by altering their job title risk prosecution in court.
Transitional arrangements that had been in place for two years – allowing existing dental nurses and technicians to register on the basis of experience – are now closed. In a move to strengthen patient protection, registration with the GDC is now compulsory for all members of the dental team – and dental nurses and dental technicians had to register by 30 July 2008.
A statement from the Council read: ‘If you’re working as a dental nurse or technician, you have to be registered or in training – whatever your job title. And experience is no longer enough.
‘The titles “dental nurse”, “dental surgery assistant”, “dental technician” and “dental technologist” are protected by law. So if you’re not registered with the GDC and you use one of these titles, or any other title which misleadingly implies that you are, you risk prosecution in a criminal court.
‘But that doesn’t mean that an unregistered person can just use a different job title and continue to do the work of a dental nurse or dental technician – at least, not without risking the registration of whoever is employing them.
‘Unregistered dental nurses and dental technicians are effectively outlawed by GDC standards which make it clear that registrants – professionals who are literally signed up to the high standards set in the UK for their profession – must employ and work with appropriately registered people.
‘If a registered dentist or dental technician employs someone to work as a dental nurse or dental technician they have a duty to ensure that that person is registered or in training. If they don’t, they risk losing their own registration.
‘An unregistered dental nurse or dental technician is therefore a contradiction in terms. If they do find someone who is prepared to employ them as a dental nurse or dental technician, that person could in turn find their own livelihood at risk as a result of GDC fitness to practise proceedings. The bottom line is, dental nurses and dental technicians need to be registered or in training.’
GDC director of operations Edward Bannatyne added: ‘If you don’t call yourself a dental nurse or dental technician, but you do the work of a dental nurse or dental technician, then whoever employs you risks a GDC fitness to practise investigation and is putting their own registration at risk.
‘The time to register under transitional arrangements that recognised existing experience is over. To be a dental nurse or dental technician, you must register or be in training. It’s as simple as that.’