Bosses at the Care Quality Commission (CQC) should hang their heads in shame at the latest Health Committee report on their activities.
It paints an image of staff running around with a clipboard making sure a small dental practice has ticked all the right boxe, while at the same time a whistleblower with information of abuse at a care home is ignored.
The Committee found it ‘astonishing’ that anyone could ever have considered it sensible for ‘small dental practices to work through the same process as a large hospital’. The CQC must accept responsibility for its poor handling of registration and adapt its processes accordingly.
The registration process could have been made significantly simpler and swifter for all involved had the CQC adapted registration procedures to different types of services.
It even failed in its obligation to register all dentists (and ambulance services) by April this year. Three months later a quarter of these services were still not registered.
The CQC has two primary functions, not only to register those who provide services, but also to inspect those it has registered.
The Committee found that the CQC’s priorities became ‘distorted by a statutory deadline for the registration of dentists’. This led ‘directly’ to a drop of 70% in inspection activity during the second half of 2010-11.
At the same time, in the social care sector, the CQC’s reaction to the abuses Winterbourne View was described as ‘woefully inadequate’. A whistleblower warned them, but was ignored.
It is time that the CQC, the Department of Health and Ministers accepted the fact that small dental practices are different from large hospitals and care homes. They should stop trying to force them into the same regulatory framework.
Most of those working in a dental practice are registered with the General Dental Council and have the necessary qualifications. The equivalent cannot be said of the average care home, which also often has a high turnover of staff.
The government is reviewing the regulations and the Health Committee hopes that all future registrations can be conducted in a ‘proportionate manner within adequate timeframes’.
The beneficiaries of this though will not be dentists, who have already gone though this particular mill. It will be GPs whose deadline for registration has been put back from April 2012 to 2013.
Dr John Milne, chair of the BDA’s General Dental Practice Committee, has said that the report is a ‘damning indictment of the debacle’ that has been the registration of dentists.
Condemnation though is not enough. It is another matter he needs to take up with Ministers, as dentists are still living with the effects of this mess.