Dentists’ leaders have reacted with anger after GPs were given longer to register with a new watchdog – despite rejection of their own repeated pleas for delay.
The Department of Health (DH) announced that family doctors now had until
April 2013 to enrol with the Care Quality Commission (CQC) – a year later than the original timetable.
It said the delay would make the registration process ‘as smooth as possible for GPs’ and ensure the CQC would not be distracted from its ‘core business’ of protecting patients.
Ministers will have to introduce fresh regulations when Parliament returns in the autumn, to overturn the deadlines set down in original legislation.
The British Dental Association (BDA) made clear that it supported the decision, but argued it again highlighted the ‘severe policy and administrative difficulties’ dogging the CQC.
And it insisted it was not too late for ministers to rethink their hardline approach to dentists – although they were required to lodge an application by 1 April this year.
Susie Sanderson, chair of the BDA’s executive board, said: ‘The very fact that the government is delaying the implementation of CQC regulation for general medical practice speaks volumes for how well thought through the role of the organisation, and its capacity to fulfil it, have been.
‘Dentists’ protestations that they were suffering at CQC’s hands during the farcical registration process were brushed off at the time.
‘The DH must now concede that there are serious problems, apologise to dentists for the chaos they have made them endure and start making amends by reconsidering CQC’s role in regulating dental services.’
Any dentist that failed to register by 1 April is guilty of the ‘offence of carrying on a regulated activity without being registered’ – and could be suspended.
The BDA accused the CQC of refusing offers of help until it was too late to avoid ‘extreme inconvenience for practitioners’ and of giving out conflicting information and advice.
Earlier this month, Amanda Sherlock, the CQC’s operations director, admitted dentists had endured ‘an undoubtedly torturous registration process’, but urged the profession to move on.
In a statement announcing the delay for GPs, the DH said: ‘The registration of GP practices by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) will now take place by April 2013.
‘Out of hours providers, that are not GP practices looking after their own patients, will be required to register with CQC by April 2012.
‘These decisions have been made after discussions with the CQC and a public consultation when 96% of respondents supported the proposal to delay the registration of GP practices by a year.’