Dentists have been the victims of a double standard in the way they have been treated in relation to Care Quality Commission (CQC) registration, the BDA has told the National Audit Office (NAO).

In a submission to a NAO study on CQC, the BDA has expressed disappointment that while the obvious problems confronting CQC meant that registration of general medical practice has been delayed; registration of general dental practice was forced through despite the profession’s warnings.

The submission also argues that assurances dentists already regulated through NHS contracts with Primary Care Trusts and Performer Lists would automatically transfer to CQC registration were not fulfilled.

It reiterates the BDA’s view that the regime has failed to live up to the criteria the profession set for it:
• That it should be non-duplicative
• Proportionate to risk
• Tailored to the sector
• Not disruptive of resources
• Involve the minimum possible bureaucracy.

Looking forward, the submission calls for a more formal and publicly available agreement between CQC and the General Dental Council on the delineation between the two organisations’ duties, arguing that the current lack of clarity serves only to damage the credibility of CQC with the profession even further.

It also argues that CQC’s performance would benefit from the injection of some dental expertise into its ranks, calling for the uncertainty facing Dental Reference Officers to be resolved by having their roles transferred to the CQC.

Furthermore, the BDA’s response criticises the failure of CQC to take on board the profession’s concerns in the past and stresses the need for more effective dialogue going forwards.

John Milne, chair of the BDA’s general dental practice committee, said: ‘Dentists have been very badly abused by both the way CQC regulation has been applied to them and by the double standard apparent in the way that what we were told was an unalterable timetable in relation to dentistry was very quickly delayed for our medical counterparts.

‘The way this has been done serves only to reinforce some dentists’ impressions that they have been used as guinea pigs for an ill-conceived and badly-executed extension of regulation.

‘The real damage has been done and the BDA awaits an apology from Government for the mishandling of this episode. What’s important as move forward is that CQC starts to make progress towards improving the situation.

‘The BDA is calling for a clearer understanding of CQC’s role and operations, a desperately-needed injection of some genuine dental expertise into its work, and a more effective dialogue with the profession.’