The General Dental Council (GDC) has requested a last minute extension to respond to a legal challenge set by the British Dental Association (BDA).
The BDA had given its intention to pursue judicial review over the GDC’s handling of the consultation on the annual retention fee (ARF) increase.
Lawyers working for the association had set 4:00PM today (8 August 2014) as a deadline to either shut down the consultation, or provide documentary evidence of the policy and the evidence on which the proposed 64% fee hike was based.
The GDC has formally requested an extension until next Tuesday afternoon.
Mick Armstrong, chair of the British Dental Association’s Principal Executive Committee, said: 'We have just received an eleventh hour response from the GDC to our challenge of its botched fees consultation.
'Our lawyers wrote on the 25 July giving the statutorily accepted response period of 14 days.
'Beyond a brief acknowledgement of receipt, we have heard nothing since.
'Our lawyers contacted the GDC this afternoon and with less than two hours to go we were finally advised of the GDC legal team, and at the same time were asked to agree to an extension of time until next Tuesday.
'This is the kind of behaviour you expect from an errant schoolboy, not a professional regulator.
'We sought expert advice, and set Friday 8 August, in line with legal norms, to address the concerns outlined.
'And we offered a choice: to provide clear evidence of the policy and the evidence on which this consultation was based, or to shut it down.
'The GDC seems intent to soldier on with this shambolic consultation, but after Tuesday we will be sitting down with our lawyers and going through its response with a fine tooth comb.
'We will see if it has come up with the information, the policy and the justification that any decent consultation would depend on.
'This is further evidence of the GDC’s trademark disrespect for the profession.
'We want effective regulation and a fair consultation.
'There is a real crisis of confidence in the GDC, and it won't be addressed by the regulator sticking its head in the sand.
'The anger being felt in all parts of the profession isn't going anywhere, and neither is the BDA's determination to secure a fair deal for dentists.
'This is too serious an issue for "the dog ate my homework" excuses, but we have given the GDC a chance to deliver a response that should already be in existence if the job has been done properly.
'We will consider what happens next very carefully.
'We recognise that judicial review is a big step, but will not let this flawed consultation go unchallenged.'
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