Here is an interesting statistic provided by Dental Protection “On a purely statistical level UK dentists are at least twice as likely as their colleagues int eh USA and Australia (for example) to find themselves under some kind of challenge from their professional regulator, and they are several times more likely to do so than their colleagues in Europe”
This is a real concern to the profession and should be a concern to our patients, not because we are so bad but because the cost of regulation and scrutiny is increasing at an unparalleled and currently uncontrolled rate. The introduction of the CQC has more than doubled the cost faced by dentists this year and the wording from this organisation seems to imply that they are softening us up with a lower fee for the first year, with much worse to come.
The number of cases in the “Fitness to Practice” scheme run by the General Dental Council is higher than for any other country in the world and the number of days spent on formal hearings is now at a level that exists nowhere else in the world. The decision to forward a complaint from a patient on to an Investigating Committee is now made much more commonly, in part because of the very wide drafting and high level guidance provided by the GDC itself. Investigating Committees will have only one dentist (or dental care professional) and four other lay members, the chairman is always a lay person. They are currently faced with 25-30 cases a day giving them 15-20 minutes per case to decide the fate of the dental registrant. Given the enormous impact that these decisions can have on an individuals life – loss of the business, right to work, increased home stress etc one would have hoped for a more even handed approach. Are we really to believe that UK dentists are the worst in the world and therefore need more cases than the rest of the world or are we just being crushed by needless red tape and heavy handed bureaucracy?
The situation we are now facing in the UK with spiraling costs for regulation and scrutiny coupled with the inevitable rise in indemnity fees to pay for our protection from litigation cannot be seen as a good thing for patients. Ian Kerr’s Law of Unforeseen Consequences states that “legislation designed to protect innocent parties will inevitably lead to creating an equal level of harm to them in return“. Ultimately patients pay for these increasing costs through taxes and dental fees. There is no reason to believe that an exponential increase in costs will be matched with an exponential increase in protection from harm.