They've Been At It Again! - Your Weekly Update To The Activities Of Those Wacky GDC Folk. By @DentistGoneBadd
It’s not been a great few weeks for our infallible regulators, the General Dental Council.
A few weeks ago it was found that the GDC has a process of registering dentists from outside the European Union as dental therapists, without a thorough examination of their practical clinical skills. This, despite the fact that overseas dentists are failing to register as dentists since they are flunking the practical ‘dental mannequin exercise’ (phantom head to us oldies) of the Overseas Registration Examination at a phenomenal rate.
The GDC bleats that the registration of dentists to the dental register is governed by statute and it doesn’t have the capacity to change the rules without recourse to extensive parliamentary and GDC time.
The GDC does have that capacity to change the regulations if it could be bothered making a bit of an effort.
A GDC spokesman implied that there is currently no evidence that would suggest it needs to change the rules. From that I take it that they won’t do anything about the current state of affairs until a patient is presumably maimed, before they are spurred into action.
A couple of weeks or so later, the GDC was in trouble again, having been taken to the High Court by the Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care (PSA) for allowing the re-registration of a fraudulent dentist who had been gaoled for serious NHS fraud as well as defrauding patients.
The GDC apparently WITHELD crucial evidence of recent fraud by the dentist from the Professional Conduct Committee, which would have proven beyond any doubt that the practitioner’s claims that he had reformed since the offences in the period 2002 – 2006 were completely untrue.
And the reason the counsel for the GDC and the registrant came to an agreement to withhold evidence? Well firstly, they ‘lost’ the evidence initially and when they did finally locate it, they decided to withhold it from the PCC in order to avoid a delay in proceedings or avoid an adjournment. Again, the GDC was trying to save itself some time.
But the GDC is nothing, if not inconsistent.
They hit the headlines in The Daily Telegraph last week, when reporters found that the GDC has spent thousands of pounds on hiring private investigators to pose as patient’s families during investigations into complaints against registrants, in what BDA chair Mick Armstrong described as ‘entrapment.’
According to the Telegraph, “Between 2017 and 2018, the GDC paid £17,064.85 to private detective agency ‘Invicta Investigation’ to “investigate complaints or information received in respect of a registrant’s fitness to practise.”
The Telegraph said: “In one instance in 2016, two private investigators paid for by the GDC attended an appointment of a dentist (sic) posing as relatives of an elderly lady called ‘Evelyn’. The investigation against the dentist (sic) in question was subsequently thrown out, with the GDC having to pay legal costs of those involved.” (The Telegraph got it wrong. The victim of the GDC ‘scam’ was actually a clinical dental technician and not a dentist).
So now you can rest assured that the GDC is taking great care with your ARF money and it’s not being squandered away on fripperies. I lie. It is.
What I can’t get my head around is that grown adults, who regulate the dental profession, actually engage private dicks (it’s a term – look it up) to pose as patients in order to try and induce registrants to act outside their scope of practice by what is in effect, emotional blackmail. I am told by insiders that the GDC has been known to use this ‘technique’ mainly to ‘entrap’ clinical dental technicians. In view of the GDC’s recent behaviour, I’ve no reason to doubt it.
In the instance outlined above, two of the GDC’s private dicks reportedly posed as relatives of an elderly lady who couldn’t attend at that point because of a chest infection. They explained to the clinical technician that she hadn’t seen a dentist for years and asked if the technician could overlook the need for a dentist’s exam and make a new denture anyway. In other words, the GDC and the dicks were deliberately trying to use emotional blackmail to induce the registrant to venture outside his scope of practice.
That is OUTRAGEOUS.
I picture a male gumshoe, roughly the shape and size of David Walliams in Little Britain walking into a clinical dental technician’s premises:
GUMSHOE: Hello. I am a laydeee. I require a set of dentures please.
TECHNICIAN: I’m sorry, but I can’t help until you’ve seen a dentist first.
GUMSHOE: But I am a laydeee in distress. I need them urgently for a…wedding. For I am to be a beautiful bridesmaid.
TECHNICIAN: Look, Mr Brack, I’ve told you once before, will you get out of my practice now! And next time, try shaving your 19 century psychoanalyst beard!
The other question is: What does the GDC do to secure ‘evidence’ in addition to sending in a private detective? At the end of the day, unless you record or film the transaction between the registrant and a badly turned-out and hirsute amateur transvestite, all you’ve got is a registrant’s word against a Bee Gee in a frock.
TECHNICIAN: “Hang on, what’s that whirring noise.”
MR BRACK: “Ah, erm…nothing. I am a laydeee.”
TECHNICIAN: “It’s coming from your bosoms. I can see them vibrating.”
MR BRACK: “It’s…erm…a premium electronic brassier. For I am a sophisticated laydeee.”
TECHNICIAN: “It’s not it’s a VHS video recorder, you liar. I can hear it rewinding. Now get out of my practice Brack, and do something useful like develop a better, fairer system of dental regulation.”
Am I the only one wondering “How is entrapping a practitioner in a completely fictitious scenario helping to protect patients?” And is it really worth the registration fees from over 17 dentists at 2017 prices, the only outcome seeing the money given back to the registrant and indemnity providers?
I doubt even the producers of a TV detective series would consider a GDC plot to be believable.
WORLD-FAMOUS BELGIAN PRIVATE DETECTIVE MONSIEUR HERCULE POIROT, LOOKING DAPPER IN WINGED COLLAR, SPATS AND HOMBURG HAT, SHUFFLES INTO A HYGIENIST’S SURGERY. HIS TWIRLY MOUSTACHE LOOKS PARTICULARLY WELL-GROOMED AND TWIRLY THIS MORNING
POIROT: Bonjour mon amie.
HYGIENIST: Good morning Mister…Monsieur Poirot. Lovely to meet you. How can I help?
POIROT: I am in dire need of…ow you say…the scraping of the munge off my teeth. I would be indebted if you would indulge me.
HYGIENIST: I’m sure I can do that, it’s what I do. However, can I ask when you last had a dental examination?
POIROT: Ah, bonne question mon amie. Let me sink…
POIROT: Oui. SINK! Ah oui. It was around 1920.
HYGIENIST: Oh, I see. I think it may be prudent to let a dentist carry out an examination and full periodontal assessment first. I can see even from this distance that you may have a few gum problems.
POIROT: Oh je voi! Non, mon amie. Za tees ze garlic, not, as you Eeenglish say, gammy gums.
HYGIENIST: I really do insist a dentist sees you before I can scale you.
POIROT: But, wiz my eerie weird detective sixth-sense, I fear zat it may not be wise for ze dentist to use iz special gum probe, for fear it may get tangled in my magnificent waxed moustache.
HYGIENIST: But, your ‘tache could get caught in my prophy cup anyway.
POIROT: I fear, madame, zat you are mistaken….
HYGIENIST: Hang on. You’re one of those private investigators the GDC is using to entrap registrants aren’t you?
POIROT: I fear so, mon amie. Shall I leave your surgery, waddling outlike a king penguin, swinging my stick.
As far as I know, the GDC appears to have restricted its undercover cop ops to clinical dental technicians for the moment. But they could do anything! They could even do it in order to carry out covert surveillance of practice premises and check you are doing your paperwork correctly.
ROBERT T. IRONSIDE, PRIVATE DETECTIVE AND SPECIAL DEPARTMENT CONSULTANT TO SAN FRANCISCO POLICE, IS WHEELED INTO AN NHS PRACTICE BY HIS ASSISTANT, EVE. SHE IS STRUGGLING TO GET THE WHEELCHAIR THROUGH THE ENTRANCE DOOR. DRAMATIC MUSIC, SUCH AS THAT USED TO ACCOMPANY AN EXCITING CAR CHASE, PLAYS IN THE BACKGROUND
EVE: I can’t quite get your chair through from that angle. I think I need to turn your chair around and come from the left. Hold on.
IRONSIDE: (SHRIEKS) Ow. That was my foot. Watch what you’re doing.
EVE: Sorry chief. I was…
IRONSIDE: (GROWLS) You’ve done it again!
EVE: (WHISPERS) At least we’re going to get them on denying access to the disabled.
IRONSIDE: NOW look what you’ve done! My ankle’s turned backwards and my shoe has fallen off.
AFTER FIVE MINUTES OF TOING AND FROING, IRONSIDE AND EVE FINALLY GET INTO RECEPTION AND APPROACH THE RECEPTION DESK.
IRONSIDE: Good morning ma’am. Chief Ironside. I have an examination appointment with Dr Bodger.
RECEPTIONIST: Hello. Would you mind filling in a medical history form, Mr Ironside?
IRONSIDE: No need ma’am. All you need to know is a sniper’s bullet in the spine.
RECEPTIONIST: Have you been sent by the GDC?
IRONSIDE: Er…yes ma’am.
RECEPTIONIST: Piss off!
EVE: (TO IRONSIDE). Shall I try backing up to go through the door?
I find the whole process laughable, if it weren’t so expensive, unethical and costly. As one GDC insider told me, this is not a good use of GDC resources:
“If the GDC suspect that an individual is practising outside of scope then, if proven, the individual is committing a criminal act. Therefore, as a criminal act, it is a matter for the police.
But, the GDC know that the Crown Prosecution Service won't touch these cases so they (the GDC) end up carrying out a Fitness to Practice hearing at a huge cost to GDC registrants.
So, the GDC, in practice, becomes investigator, accuser and judge. That doesn't seem to be natural justice to me.”
It’s all a bit ‘Judge John Deed.’
THE GORGEOUS JUDGE JOHN DEED, SEEKING JUSTICE WHEREVER HE GOES, STRIDES PURPOSEFULLY INTO THE SURGERY.
DENTIST: I can never remember. Are you Bodie or Doyle?
JUDGE JOHN DEED: I’m sorry?
DENTIST: You’re not a judge at all. You were in The Professionals. Now get out of my surgery or I’ll call Cowley. It seems that the GDC will stoop to anything, even enlisting old ladies.
THE DEMURE MISS MARPLE, WALKS SLOWLY INTO THE SURGERY.
MISS MARPLE: Hello, I don’t know if you can help, but my dentures are loo…
The GDC appears to have stooped pretty low in their use of private investigators. Who knows how low they can go? What about if they went about looking for evidence to present to The Health Committee?
SHERLOCK STRIDES INTO THE SURGERY, LONG COAT IN HIS WAKE. DR WATSON FOLLOWS. SHERLOCK SPINS AROUND ON THE SPOT, DOING THAT THING HE DOES WHEN HE SEES EVERYTHING EVERYONE ELSE HAS OVERLOOKED. HE SPOTS AND ZOOMS IN ON A STAPHYLOCOCCUS AUREUS LURKING ON A BRACKET TABLE. WE SEE A CLOSEUP OF HIS NOSE TWITCHING.
SHERLOCK: (POINTING AT THE NURSE) You’re having an affair with this nurse!
NURSE: No! Oh yuck!
DENTIST: How do you make that out, Sherlock?
SHERLOCK: An almost imperceptible trace of lipstick on the corner of your mouth. Evidence of a furtive kiss.
DENTIST: It’s raspberry jam, you plum. I’ve just had a quick bite of a Doughnut between patients.
SHERLOCK: But you ARE on drugs. I can distinctly smell the unmistakable odour of pure opium.
DENTIST: That’s eugenol, you idiot. I’ve been doing a root-filling.
SHERLOCK SWIVELS AND HOMES IN ON AN EMPTY BLISTER PACK ON THE FLOOR. HE POINTS AT IT ACCUSINGLY
SHERLOCK: Don’t deny your drug addiction. What is that?
DENTIST: It’s an Immodium packet. Me and Tracey here both suffer from irritable bowel syndrome. She’s had a dose of the squits this morning so I gave her a couple of ‘Instants.’
WATSON GRABS SHERLOCK GENTLY BY THE ARM AND LEADS HIM OUT
WATSON: Come on Sherlock. Let’s go and have a quiet lie down. You’ve been overdoing it.
THEY APPROACH THE DOOR. WATSON PAUSES AND APOLOGISES TO THE DENTIST OVER HIS SHOULDER
WATSON: Sorry about that Doc. Sherlock’s been doing Smack all night.
I, for one, can’t wait to see what the GDC does with our money next week.
I'm sorry to have to tell you that the GDC lost it several years ago.
"I am told by insiders that the GDC has been known to use this ‘technique’ mainly to ‘entrap’ clinical dental technicians. In view of the GDC’s recent behaviour, I’ve no reason to doubt it."
I'm also sorry to tell you that there is plenty of reason to doubt that they haven't used such tactics on dentists as well.
It's even recorded in Hansard in a statement from Sir Peter Bottomley that the GDC is trumping up charges, this is exactly what he was referring to.