So the problem with the GDC is…
Well we all have our views, but are they heard? And were they heard in the recent online questionnaire sent to us all? It seems to me that it was a done deal, this planned rise in the annual retention fee. Now that really needs to be renamed, probably something like the 'detention fee'. I shall explain.
I don't have the GDC (General Dental Council) discussion document questionnaire before me so forgive me if my figures are slightly out. We were told that the annual budget of the GDC was around £24 million, of which around £22 million goes on disciplinary proceedings! Was I the only one to pick up on this?
I think I probably speak for most of us when I say that I would like a proper register kept of those who are licensed to practise dentistry, though I'm not really sure why I should pay for the pleasure. Nevertheless I'm prepared to, and in today's computerised age this really shouldn't add up to much at all.
The GDC states that it is there to protect patients, very laudable. However, it has spectacularly failed to do this by not addressing the main issue that ensures that a large majority of the population is totally unprotected. I refer of course to the elephant in the room that no one really wants to talk about, the UDA (units of dental activity) system, which condemns dentists to either penury, or purveyors of the single filling, extraction and the single crown, and as no one wants to live in penury we all know where it’s gone.
The GDC tells us that at any one time, one in seven dentists is under some type of enquiry complaint. Here is my experience with being complained about. The first time a patient complained that we would no longer accept him for NHS treatment as he had failed to attend six times in a row. At the disciplinary hearing he explained that he was unable to get time off work as he was also claiming full unemployment benefit and needed the money! The second time a patient complained that I had too readily advised him that he needed a new denture, when he felt I had not made enough effort to bend back his acrylic partial, which he'd only had for six years, after he had boiled it in the kettle in order to clean it. I suspect the majority of our £22 million goes on rubbish like this. Even if I am wrong, the GDC did not provide us with any detail whatsoever as to how the money is spent.
I agree that for those very few dentists who are convicted in the courts of both work–related and some non work–related offences, there needs to be a rigorous disciplinary procedure, but these must surely be very few and far between. For the vast majority of us, what we want and are prepared to pay for is a 'retention fee' and not a ' detention fee'.
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