New strict legislation introduced this month concerning dentists who provide dental treatment outside NHS regulations may prove a ‘disincentive to professionals who are considering working in Wales’.
That’s according to the British Dental Association’s Director for Wales, Stuart Geddes.
He claims that the new red tape – which came into force on 1 January – could lead to treatment being delayed and possibly a shortage of dentists in the future as they will be unable to provide care privately until registered with the Healthcare Inspectorate for Wales (HIW).
He adds that this only duplicates what the General Dental Council already does.
The Assembly Government maintains the new regulations mean that ‘dental practitioners providing private dental treatment in Wales will be inspected to the same standards applied to NHS-funded services’.
Health Minister Edwina Hart said: ‘‘It is important that there is uniformity of regulation between NHS and private care as many patients often choose to supplement their NHS care with private treatment, often from the same dental practice.’
Dr Geddes says that whilst he believes that facilities in practices that only provide private care should be audited in the same way as NHS practices, the new regulations are superfluous in requiring all dentists, rather than practices, in Wales to register with HIW.
He says: ‘There are only around 20 entirely private practices with about 50 dentists in Wales. The vast majority of our 1,200 dentists already have their practices inspected to comply with existing NHS regulations. It seems unnecessary and cumbersome to register every dentist rather than where they practise – it’s duplication of what the GDC does. It’s a really sloppy piece of legislation and to have it practice-based would have been so much easier.
He added: ‘I also don’t see how HIW can regulate patient treatments as the Minister envisages – this is a matter for agreement between the patient and dentist and should not have Welsh Assembly Government interference, or is this the real agenda?’