GDC Watch: Bringing the profession into disrepute - Part One.

Lookout_GDC_Watch_July_18 Lookout: Image by Dave Bleasdale

The GDC have recently being taking a stance over professional conduct and particularly in regard to social media.   The Standards say that we must not publically criticise colleagues unless this is done as part of raising a concern.  I should like to make it clear at the outset of this blog that what follows is part of me raising concerns.  Concerns that I feel are not being taken seriously enough, and some not even acknowledged as being concerning at all.   This blog is in 2-parts.  Part 1 will look at ‘bringing the profession into disrepute’ in the context of social media.  It is perhaps timely in view of Mr Hill’s recent effort of justification over the need to suspend retired dentist Mr Pate under the pretext of ‘protecting the public’.   Part 2 will look at my concerns over conflicts of interests.  Both will, as usual, look at this in terms of recent events and cases. 

So my part 1 concern relates to a fellow dentist who is a Clinical Advisor providing early advice reports to the GDC and the material posted on the public stream of their Facebook page.  Our regulator tells us that we must not post material on public media that may undermine public confidence or bring the profession into disrepute.   On this public-facing social media page, there is a joke about a sexual act, several slang references to parts of male anatomy and masturbation, a profile picture that is potentially racially-offensive (depending on the generation of the particular panel that might be selected by the GDC), but the finest one has to be the picture which blames patients for their gum disease and tooth decay because they are “*insertslangformasturbators*’’.  Yet this Clinical Advisor, wrote in an early advice report for the GDC that a dentist who communicated with a patient using Facebook Messenger, was unprofessional for doing so. This would be funny apart for the stress that the registrant was put under as a result of it being included in their initial allegations which contributed to the case being forwarded for a full hearing. There will be more of this to come in another blog.   

I emailed the current Director of Fitness to Practise to ask him what he thought about the content on this Clinical Advisor’s Facebook profile page, and whether he felt it was appropriate for someone affiliated with the GDC.   The GDC ought to know how their Clinical Advisor was behaving whilst giving potentially life-changing advice about other registrants’ professional conduct.  Perhaps my tip-off might assist them in getting their own house in order after a run of bad hearing outcomes for them and at a time when the mood of the profession is resembling that at the time of the ARF debacle.  At the time I had started to draft this blog I had not received any reply, and suspected that the GDC’s email filters might have kicked my email with its supporting attachments of profanities straight into their Spam Folder. I have now received my reply, so I will come back to that later.

On this particular issue of ‘unprofessional’ social media comments, 2 registrants recently received letters from the GDC reminding them of their need to uphold standards when using social media.  They had both used an inappropriate word, albeit on a single occasion, on a Facebook thread and a helpful colleague had very kindly pointed this out to the GDC without raising their concerns with the group moderators or the registrants themselves.  The digital evidence suggests that the anonymous informant was another registrant. In terms of the naughty word used, it was quoted ‘verbatim and in italics’ in the GDC letter.   If the GDC think that word is inappropriate they ought not visit the Dr Rant page and see their ‘affectionate’ nicknames for Jeremy Hunt which are used on an almost daily basis.  The GMC don’t seem to concerned however, but perhaps doctors do not refer each other to their regulator over spats and spite instigated on social media platforms.

Anyway, I felt pretty strongly that this particular display of conduct on social media referred to above really should not go unquestioned, all things being considered.  


The Standards apply to all and this Clinical Advisor who is a fellow dentist, is held to the same standards as us all.  No-one should believe that they sit above us mere-registrants, somehow ‘protected’ by a relationship with the GDC.  A colleague has a four-month suspension for alleged religiously-offensive statements made visible only to other dental registrants, yet I found his comments less offensive that this advisor’s silly, misogynistic and sexist posts. Also, someone with the infantile mentality that is publically displayed arguably unfit to assess whether any other registrants’ behaviour is professional, surely.

Whilst waiting for my email to be replied, rather hilariously, another registrant got a letter from the GDC courtesy of another anonymous informant reminding them of their professional obligations, and advising them to take action so they too could be better behaved in the future.  However, the letter gave no information on what was posted that caused offense or deserved some kind of GDC-referral retaliation.  An SAR sent the GDC may well clear that one up in time. 

Taking screenshots from Facebook and using them to make complaints to the GDC is a rather petty way to retaliate against another dental registrant in my opinion.  Those doing it really need to take a long hard look at themselves, especially if they are in the subset of registrants whinging about our high ARF.

As it happens, the GDC Annual Accounts and Report show that by 2018, 9-10% of incoming GDC complaints (as per my little infographic below) currently arise from other registrants.  This is a record year.  Well done registrants!!  Keep this rate of progress up and in a few years we might actually beat the patients. 

Table 1 GDC Watch July 18

So actually, never mind the GDC: we also need to get our own house in order here.  Please can we all stop being so childish? If you don’t like what’s on Facebook, get off social media, leave the groups that aren’t to your taste or contain people you don’t like, block people who wind you up, or if what’s being said is about you is that bad, spend your own money on legal proceedings rather than wasting all our money artificially inflating the ARF telling tales by the use of screenshots.  Still, it’s nice to see that the GDC has healthy reserves of £20 million against a back drop of a decreasing number of incoming complaints.  Maybe this is in preparation for the day we achieve a level of 100% of complaints arising from all the back-stabbing and bickering going on between ourselves. 

This is the problem with the ‘duty to report concerns’:


This is the sheer reality of the dire situation that faces us.  The minute you act on a professional duty to raise concerns with the regulator, you are at risk that ‘concerns’ will be raised about you, and there will be GDC referrals all round.

But back to my email:  I did get a reply regarding my Clinical Advisor issue.  I was advised that I should use the online form to report the matter to the Initial Assessment Team.  

It looks as though we are not the only group happy to throw dentists under the bus, which is always nice to know. 


Image credit - Dave Bleasdale under CC licence -  modified.

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Recent Comments
Mike Wanless

GDC Watch

Thanks Vicky Very interesting and thought provoking blog. Is it possible to look at your dissertation, or if not could you be temp... Read More
Wednesday, 11 July 2018 07:38
Victoria Holden

Response to Mike Wanless

Hello Mike, Many thanks for your comments. I have messaged you via GDPUK. I am not sure if the complaints about social media sp... Read More
Wednesday, 11 July 2018 20:57
Mike Wanless


It would be difficult to establish a trend in terms of numbers, but I think that on reflection I am probably more interested in te... Read More
Wednesday, 11 July 2018 21:22
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Challenging mainstream Media? CNN buys Beme

Challenging mainstream Media? CNN buys Beme


I have mentioned Casey Neistat and his interesting YouTube channel in the past. A year on, he has 5,902,950 subscribers which is a rather impressive following! Last week he announced that he would be ending the daily vlogs that documented his life and will now be focusing on a new project. This was obviously big news and dominated social media for a few hours.


Casey has always been consistent in always striving forward and taking on new projects. He often talked on his blogs about being fiercely ambitious.


On the back of his “retirement” from YouTube, on Monday it was announced that CNN would be buying the social media platform owned by Neistat called Beme and the 11 person team that run the app for a reported $25 million. But the really intriguing part is that CNN plan to shut down the app and allow Casey to create a new project to attract his 6 million followers to this new media company. Neistat will have full creative control, that lets the audience share “timely and topical videos” and start conversations around current events.


“Casey has tapped into nearly six million really powerful viewers, most of which do not tune into CNN,” Andrew Morse, global head of CNN Digital, told NYT. “To build this audience authentically, we believe we need to build something new.”


Casey will attempt to build engagement around news topics.


“It’s going to be very different from Beme and bigger than a single product,” Neistat told The Verge in a phone interview.

“There is a tremendous distrust between the audience that watches my content online and the information that is put out by traditional media. Our broad ambition is to figure out a way with tech and media to bridge the gigantic divide.”


Along with his own video projects, Neistat wants to find more opportunities to help his audience learn more about the world and how they can help make it a better place. He's already done this to some extent in the past, such as in 2013 when he used the $25,000 budget from 20th Century Fox to help with typhoon relief in the Philippines. He also wants to come up with a way to help the next generation of content creators use technology and find their voice.


So why am I writing a blog on this?


Younger generations do not believe everything in the mainstream media as past generations certainly did and so what intrigues me about this latest move from Casey is how will he present news / stories in a way that engages people and gets them interacting with the latest news from around the world.


Video is proving a very popular medium, as the number of subscribers to Casey’s vlogs demonstrate but I certainly can’t wait to see how he will take the opportunity of working in a big mainstream media organisation and put his unique spin and perspective on things. As a major cable TV news channel, CNN is likely trying to formulate content in a way that speaks to younger, more cynical audiences and based on his previous form of effortlessly appealing to his viewers, Neistat seems the perfect man to reach the younger audience.

I am looking forward to seeing how this devolops and if Casey can truly produce something different that influences and engages his followers.

Below I have included one of his famous YouTube productions. Looks like fun to me :)

His Youtube channel can be found here.


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Why You Need To Blog On Your Website

Blogging For Your Practice


Neil Sanderson

Blogging is now essential if you want to have a successful Social Media presence and at the same time get your dental practice website up the Google natural rankings, so first things first, what is a blog?

Well you are reading one now, this is my blog and I write one every week, for two reasons, the first is to communicate with my clients and potential clients, the second reason is that blogging is one of the best ways to keep your website on the first page of Google.

A blog is simply an article written by you, usually on your website, but you can have a separate blog area too if you don’t have this as part of your site. I would recommend to anyone that if you are thinking of building a new dental practice website or changing your existing one you must have the ability to write a blog.

I recently asked for a quote on behalf of one of my clients to have upgrade his website which currently doesn’t have the ability to start blogging. Both he and I were staggered when I was quoted £950.00 + VAT.

All websites should have a blog built into them, if you build a website in one of the two major “content management systems” e.g. WordPress or Joomla, this will be provided for you automatically. Don’t buy a website without either (a) a content management system or (b) a blog section. Incidentally all the websites we build have both as standard see my siteDental Website Design and Build.

So why is blogging so important? Let’s look at Social Media first. The two main Social Media sites you should have your practice on are of course Facebook and Twitter. Neither are really geared up for having lots of content in a single post, in fact Twitter limits you to 140 characters in total.

So if you are going to engage with your patients you have to link to something else, this is where blogging really comes into its own and this is how you do it. First you write your blog (remember a blog can be any size you want) on whatever special offer you are running or something interesting about the practice. You then create a post on either Facebook or Twitter and put a link back to your blog.

This does several things, firstly it takes the person who is reading your post back to your website which is ideally where you want them. Hopefully they will take advantage of your offer or maybe have a look around your website, either way this is what you want to achieve.

Secondly Google loves this type of traffic, so the more traffic you have coming to your site from Facebook and Twitter the higher Google will rank your site. This is the modern equivalent of “link building” but one that Google approves of and rewards you for doing it.

Blogging has another great positive effect on your website ranking. Google is encouraging everyone to update and create new content for your website. A blog is the single best and easiest way to do this. If you start to blog ideally once per week or once a month even once a quarter, your website rankings will improve.

So remember, if you are ordering a new website, insist it has the ability to blog (all ours do). Insist it has a content management system (all ours do). Start blogging and see your website rise up the rankings and your Social Media engagement soar.

If you don’t have time to blog yourself, we can do it for you, simply call me on 01767 626 398 or email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit the website www.dentalmarketingexpert.co.uk

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Food for [social media] thought?

Food for [social media] thought?

Food for thought from the Bank of England:

In the week where the UK dental industry was tied up at the NEC, the Chief Economist of the Bank of England gave a question and answer session to the world using the medium of Twitter. It appears he made a good job of it. Some commentators criticised the fact that the answers were standard PR fare, but others realised he did, in fact, release some crucial financial information.

Other companies in the world of high finance feel forced by their regulators to only release critical news via official channels. Twitter does not count as "official".

So did the Bank of England break its own and other regulator's rules? Newspapers were once new, as were radio and TV, the world realised these were tools of communication, and engaged with those media.

Let's turn to the consumer field, where large retail and customer facing companies use Twitter and other social media to enhance their customer service operations. They have teams of people, sometimes responding 24/7, to show that they are giving the best customer service and that they are listening. Ask a few people at Dental Showcase, I did, and they all have a story. "My train was cancelled, I had paid through the nose in advance, and I missed a very important meeting, what will the railway operator do about it?" Or " My heating is broken, we have a small baby, an engineer to fix our heating in seven days time is not good enough".

Do have a look in the social media - those two comments are only a small example of the complaints aired daily, and addressed to the relevant companies. In those cases Virgin Trains and British Gas did reply, and fixed the problems rapidly. The responding company hopes the complainant returns to the same social medium to say how great the service recovery was.

So, back to dentistry.

Dental practices and their teams do face the social media and partake, they take the risk that a complaint may be aired, but they know they must respond to this, and respond seriously.

However, some of the dental industry are scared of GDPUK, on whose website you are reading this blog. GDPUK gives dental professionals a platform to tell their colleagues [and only that limited group]  when they have had great service, and that sort of comment is rewarded by a magnified, greater uptake of that service. I know this is a true fact.

As well as sharing all sorts of news, information, questions and experiences, some dental professionals use GDPUK to tell their colleagues when they feel they have had bad service. Sometimes the complaint is only about what is perceived as poor service. The effect of this can be magnified, in the world of the isolated dental professional, when two or three other fellow professionals appear and confirm they too have had the same less than perfect experience. This is the power of the internet in the modern world, we all know it allows us to rapidly compare prices, compare services, and read reviews. Surely the winning technique for the dental companies, and other small businesses the world over, is to monitor those media, and if a problem occurs, respond in that medium, and try your best to give the best service possible. This could be a winning formula and may lead to positive results, and positive feedback, which in turn will create more sales.

I am convinced the modern companies who adopt this approach will be the winners in the long term. Censorship cannot win, but open-ness will.


Blog image by Gord Fynes, @gordasm. With thanks.


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