Dentists as guinea pigs

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has been slated by the House of Commons Health Committee.

Committee Chair Stephen Dorrell MP said: 'The CQC's primary focus should be to ensure that the public has confidence that its inspections provide an assurance of acceptable standards in care and patient safety. We do not believe that the CQC has yet succeeded in this objective.'

Looking ahead to the challenge of GP registration, he said his committee would examine the extent to which the CQC has learnt from its experience of dental registration and is able to deliver ‘a streamlined process that limits the burdens placed upon GPs’. So our profession were the guinea pigs, that’s now official.

The committee found that the CQC’s ‘essential standards’ could not be taken 'as a guarantee of acceptable standards in care'. It has been frequently criticised recently for failing to identify poor care and even abuse, while at the same time giving the failing organisation a clean bill of health.

In another part of the forest, the Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has proposed a new system of independent inspections based on the education watchdog, Ofsted. He is looking for a 'very thorough and very public independent inspection” system for hospitals, care homes and doctors’ surgeries to identify which ones are good and which ones are poor.

But is more regulation really the answer? Do we need a regulator to tell us which supermarkets or airlines are good or poor? No, the market decides that.

Companies giving a poor service or selling the wrong product go out of business because people stop buying from them.

If dental practices, private or NHS, do not provide what people want, they will find somewhere that does. The sooner Ministers, regulators and assorted busybodies recognise this fact the better.

Michael Watson, Dentistry news correspondent

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