Rupert Hoppenbrouwers has voiced concern over the level of pressure dentists are working under as he steps down from the DDU.
The head of the DDU, Rupert Hoppenbrouwers, made the comments in his final speech as head of the Dental Defence Union (DDU) before he handed over the role to his successor John Makin, and said in his speech that dental professionals are working under more pressure than he could have ever imagined.
‘During my almost 30 years as a dento-legal adviser, the practice of dentistry has been transformed beyond recognition,’ Rupert Hoppenbrouwers said.
‘Dentistry was almost exclusively seen as a disease repair service when I joined the DDU in 1987, but over time dental practice has become increasingly focussed on providing elective, cosmetic treatments.
‘This has brought great advantages in terms of professional satisfaction and advances in treatment techniques, but it has also raised the stakes for practitioners and patients alike.
‘The high levels of technical skill necessary to transform people’s smiles makes dentistry a highly rewarding profession but at the same time, patients’ expectations of what can be achieved are higher than ever and unfortunately they are not always realistic.
‘Although people are prepared to pay large sums for extensive courses of cosmetic treatment and to shop around for a dentist who they believe can deliver the outcome they want, they are also more likely to express dissatisfaction if their expectations are not met.
‘This has led to the contradictory situation in which there has been a surge in complaints, GDC investigations and claims, even though standards of practice have never been higher.
‘At the same time, dentists have had to cope with scrutiny from a growing number of regulatory bodies.
‘In the past 10 years, the increased activity of the GDC has been mirrored by the Dental Complaints Service, the CQC, NHS England and the equivalent bodies in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, while the Ombudsman in England has made a public commitment to carrying out more formal investigations.
‘As well as meeting the GDC’s ethical standards, they are expected to keep up-to-date with national guidance and changes in the law in everything from tooth whitening to data protection.
‘Today’s dental professionals are working under more pressure than I could ever have imagined when I was in practice.
‘I have always believed that the DDU’s role is to be in the dentists’ corner and help to redress the balance.
‘With an expanded team of 15 dento-legal advisers, specialist claims handlers and solicitors, I’m confident that we will continue to provide members with the strongest representation when they need us most.’