Adequate records are not being kept by the UK’s dental regulator making it ineffective at protecting patients.
That’s according to a leading claimant dental negligence solicitors.
The Dental Law Partnership reports that in the last five years the firm has encountered an increasing number of legal claims in which the dentists have no liability cover and/or completely fail to co-operate with the claims.
Chris Dean, managing director at DLP, said: ‘These dentists deprive patients of the protection of a remedy in law when dental treatment goes wrong. Frequently good solid legal claims involving these risk-creating dentists fail simply because of the lack of liability cover or the dentists’ lack of co-operation with the legal process.’
In March 2012, the Dental Law Partnership wrote to the dental regulator, the General Dental Council, requesting details under the FOI Act of the extent of the problem for the last seven years.
It was told: ‘The GDC do not categorise hearing determinations by either type of complaint or which standards have been breached. There are no records to search therefore which accurately provide this information.’
Chris Dean said: ‘In other words the Dental Council had no idea what was going wrong on its patch.
‘As the Dental Council had not analysed its own data, we have done the analysis and discovered that in 2011, approximately a quarter of all concluded dentist professional conduct hearings involved dentists who put dental patients at risk in that they either did not have liability cover or completely failed to co-operate with the formal proceedings.’
And according to GDC figures, the problem is getting worse.
Chris Dean said: ‘For the first four months of 2012, the figures show that 55% of all concluded dentist conduct hearings involved dentists who created risk for their dental patients by not having liability cover or not co-operating with the formal processes.’
He added: ‘The rise in the number of dentists who put their patients at risk is bringing the dental profession into disrepute.’
The GDC admitted in March 2012 that it had no idea how its own registered dentists have breached their professional standards in the last seven years.
Chis added: ‘How can the GDC be regarded as an authoritative voice in the monitoring and determination of the quality of dental care in the UK? It is failing in its primary function – that of protecting dental patients.’
The law firm has responded to the regulator’s failings by creating an awareness campaign calling for changes in the law.
Bridge the Gap – www.btgcampaign.co.uk – has mobilised victims, MPs, law firms, dentists and patients rights campaigners to voice serious concerns about the level of protection for dental patients in the UK.
BBC Radio 4 consumer affairs programme You and Yours will take the debate national in a programme due to air next Thursday (17 May) at 12noon when Chris Dean and a member of the public with her own story of injustice will face the GDC chief executive Evelyn Gilvarry to discuss the issues.