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NOV
24
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Upsetting the Applecart

Pantomime season with a Grimm warning   

     

I’ve had a busy couple of days and upset some applecarts; perhaps I should apologise if I have bruised any fruit?

On Friday the 21st, I spent an interesting day in Corpus Christi College, in Cambridge with my fellow NADA (National Association of Dental Advisers) colleagues as well as a selection of the great and the good and quite a few of our younger dental colleagues who had come along for the verifiable CPD and to find out what sort of profession they were entering into.

Sarah Rann (assistant medical director East Anglia Area Team NHS England) kicked off proceedings by asking us and then telling us what we should be doing as National Dental Advisers. The only aspect that she missed off her list was influencing the Regulators, (aka upsetting the established applecart by proffering an expert opinion).

We were then treated to a relatively complimentary double act between Barry Cockcroft and John Milne’s views on Contract Reform. There was a large amount of agreement even concluding with synchronised retirement from their respective roles early next year. Barry emphasised that ‘access’ was less of a political hot potato now than it had been and he saw this as one of his successes during his tenure. John talked about the impact of pilots and possible implications.

A little local difficulty about a dental practice not far from Nottingham was briefly mentioned.

A question regarding access to certain less privileged groups was aired and this is where I must apologise. I raised the question of ‘access to what quality of care?’ And I then asked ‘who was responsible for the World Class Commissioning of such ludicrously large and unmanageable contracts?’

Well there was a stunned silence and poor Barry looked like he had been stabbed in the chest. Fortunately John was on hand to ride to his rescue and acknowledge, although not answer the question and then draw stumps on this part of the meeting.  

We were treated to some joined up thinking from David Geddes (National head of primary care commissioning) who discussed intelligently and without too much smoke and mirrors what the future 5 year plan may mean to dentistry, please read this if you haven’t: http://www.england.nhs.uk/ourwork/futurenhs/

Amanda Crosse (consultant in Dental Public Health) went a little off piste with her unguarded comment regarding perhaps planning to have dental NHS commissioning overseen by CCG’s. An interesting idea which seemed to irritate the level headed David and which he was forced into backtracking a little.

David Behan was cut short, the previous part of the agenda having overrun by 50 minutes meant that David only had 10 minutes to get his message across about the new CQC. He did it very well I thought and was only sorry that it was necessary to tell the gathered throng of dental advisers that he was disappointed in their union attitude to pay and perhaps we would like to put something back into the profession. He was having no more of discussing an inflationary fee. Actually I agree and am happy to spend my time for free advising the CQC.

This is where all of you come in…...’Efficacy and the CQC inspection, on the right path now? ‘It’s your opportunity to get the message across and its coming to GDPUK soon.

 

 Poisoned apples for ‘afters’………..,

The afternoon was devoted to a Brother’s Grimm pantomime about a dodgy dentist with decontamination and NHS gaming tendencies, played brilliantly by Bryan Harvey (DDU), who was frighteningly good at getting into Character.  We were assured that this was not based on any recent situation and I pointed out that it couldn’t have been, since they failed to notify the Press or recall 22,000 terrified patients…., Oops!

The GDC on this NADA inspired day was represented by Mike Ridler (Head of Hearings) who displayed distressing figures on FtP hearings.  Mike expressed his inability to understand the reasons since in his experience there had not been an associated decline in professional standards. Somebody in the audience mentioned that it might have something to do with National advertising?!! Mike did not wish to be drawn further on this.

He obviously didn’t feel inclined to join in with the GDC pantomime either and suggested that if anyone wanted to talk about other ARF type issues they could do this individually later, although it wasn’t his ‘field.’ He then failed to answer the other questions, since they weren’t his field either.   

The meeting closed with another unplanned shedding of apples just as stumps were drawn and flat hats were on; Jason Stokes leapt up on stage and shouted that if the younger members of the audience felt slightly dismayed by opinions voiced by the demobbing great and the good; NOW is the time to make their voices heard. Oyez, oyez!

 

Keith Hayes

Right Path Ltd

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6962 Hits
OCT
31
1

Are we comfortable with that?

Are we comfortable with that?

I wasn’t going to write any more GDC related blogs for a while, as I don't want to be seen as a one trick pony, but the situation with the GDC is the singular most important thing to have affected our existence as a profession, and continues to have more twists and turns than a white knuckle roller coaster, so my apologies for writing about it again.

Seriously, was anyone surprised by the GDC’s decision to increase the ARF to £890 on the 30th October?

After the sham of a consultation, it’s not entirely surprising that this should be followed by what was probably a sham of a discussion at the Wimpole Street Lublyanka (for those unaware, that was the name of the HQ and prison of the KGB), and an ARF of £890 has been set.

Nothing has really changed though; despite now slightly reducing the amount for DCP’s (the majority being nurses who I suspect have that actually paid for by their practices), this would appear to have been the classic “give ‘em 3 choices and they’ll pick the middle one”.

The BDA is now set on its path for Judicial review; and this will be heard before the 17th December. The BDA stops short of recommending what its members can do up to this point, but If I may suggest the one thing that absolutely everyone can do now is cancel their direct debit, and write themselves a reminder to pay the GDC before the 31st December. That way they CANNOT take the money early, and whilst it may only be three or four weeks more before they can get it, at least if the BDA win the Judicial Review then people wont have to be waiting for a refund from a regulator that has no sense of respect for the profession. You will not be acting illegally, just stopping the GDC from getting its hands on your money sooner. Incidentally, according to a recent freedom of information request, the decision to engage KPMG was a decision taken by the Executive of the GDC and not by the council. One would have thought that engaging a company like KPMG with its associated costs would have been something put to the Council to vote on. Anyhow, the GDC will need even more money to pay for the services of KPMG, and guess what? We get to pay again.

This brings me to the point of this blog.

Civil Disobedience.

What would happen if every one of us rang the GDC between Christmas and New Year to pay? If a few thousand registrants rang over that 3 day period it means hundreds of calls would need to be taken every hour by the GDC if they had an 8 hour working day. What if their systems collapsed under the weight of having to take so many online or telephone payments? Apparently they are so arrogant they do not have the facility to take payment in cash, so the very press worthy images of a few hundred dentists turning up with buckets of £1 coins in order to pay are not going to hit the pages of the Daily Mail anytime in the future.

So what’s wrong with paying £10 on each of 89 cheques, and requesting a receipt for each one?  Or making multiple credit card payments of the same amount? Given that it is also legal to write a cheque on just about anything, may I suggest that a few 6’x4’ pieces of chipboard, properly filled out with sort codes etc delivered to the GDC in Mid-December from registrants wouldn't go amiss. How about arranging a mass payment in between Christmas and New Year, and on the days that the LAT’s insisted we should all be open for normal business? If just 100 of us turned up and wrote cheques out on pairs of boxer shorts (new ones obviously!) that might get some press attention. All at the same time as they're manning the phones taking the card payments above. One idea being floated on Facebook is getting the GDC’s bank account details and paying them directly by BACs. Its actually quite difficult for the GDC to trace who has paid at their end, but we will all have documentary proof at our end that it has been paid.

All a bit tongue in cheek admittedly, but with a serious side; if the judicial review fails, then we will have to pay this ARF. The BDA will continue the fight I know; but this particular avenue will then have closed, so a little bit of civil (legal) disobedience would show the GDC we are still up for a fight, but just looking for the next opportunity to open up a chink in their armour.

I also think that with Thursday’s decision the position of the remaining dental registrants on the GDC has now become untenable. I’ve stopped short in my past blogs of directly levelling any personal criticism at any members of the council, including the Chair and the Chief Executive. But with the emasculation of the profession so effectively by this council structure and those at its head, and the lack of any PUBLIC individual vocal defence of the profession by those who are members of it on the council, then they can no longer use the excuse of trying to change it from the inside. Thursday’s outcome should surely have delivered that message resoundingly to them. If they were against the ARF rise then they cannot now remain in the council; if they were for it, then they are not representatives of the profession. Either way, that makes their positions untenable. They look to be completely sidelined in the council processes that seem to be railroaded through at the whim of those who appear to be building a personal fiefdom with the seeming remit to destroy the entire profession it regulates. Indeed, they don't appear to write their own articles, as those published recently in the dental press which purported to be from them were 80% similar to one another when run through anti-plagiarism software. I also understand a large amount of the council business is now held behind closed doors, and only lip service is paid to the public aspect of the meetings these days which generally give the appearance of being stage managed for those observing.

As a Yorkshireman from the Loxley valley now living in Derbyshire, and working in Nottinghamshire, one legend that has been very close to me throughout my life is that of Robin Hood. I was brought up a stones throw from one of the reputed birthplaces of Robin of Loxley, am now living near the reputed burial place of Little John at Hathersage, and work close to the Major Oak near Mansfield, and I can see a huge analogy in this story.

We have a Sheriff of Nottingham, collecting taxes from the downtrodden masses, ruled over by a King John figure who’s got no real chance of a proper throne. The peasants don't like either of them but they don't care and keep finding more and more reasons to persecute the peasants whilst charging them for the privilege. This makes the remaining members of the GDC the barons at the table of the Sheriff with no real power whilst paying lip service to the Sheriff and King.

We've then got our Little John and Friar Tuck rolled into one, (ok, so its actually Fat Mick but the sentiment’s the same), and the BDA collectively as our Robin Hood (probably the Errol Flynn one rather than the Kevin Costner one given the size of its cojones recently!). That makes the profession the downtrodden peasants (metaphorically), some of whom became the Merry Men and Women. GDPUK is a collective Will Scarlett as the mouthpiece of a storyteller and bard. Hopefully the righteous King Richard is going to be the judiciary who will hear the BDA’s case.

Robbing the rich to give to the poor? How much money has the GDC had from us over the years? Having enough money to spend on QC’s and £78,000 Fitness to Practice cases over silly matters that should dealt with locally at lower cost to the profession shows it has no respect for the money it is given. It has become like a like a rich man who knows the cost of everything and value of nothing. Whilst its remit is to protect the public, this does not mean it should have the sort of reserves it wants. It should have enough to function effectively and no more.

Legend or not, every version of the story ends the same; good always triumphs over evil; a disorganised band of individuals becomes a force to be reckoned with after starting out with a bit of Civil disobedience and brings down a brutal Fiefdom that sees its subjects as legitimate source of money for its own ends, and for summary punishment at its whim.

At first the people can’t see how they will defeat the Sheriff. But up steps a leader and a small number of supporters. The impetus grows and grows until eventually a tipping point is reached. They eventually win by sticking together and keeping up the pressure. King Richard steps in and justice is restored.

Only we can decide if we let the Sheriff and King try to divide and conquer us. It’s still up to us to unite the profession against the GDC.

So to coin Moyes’ phrase of yesterday; ‘Are We Comfortable with that?’

I am.

 

* Image from Wikimedia Commons.

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Recent comment in this post
Neil Austin

Me

Thanks Simon, Heartily agree. Civil Disobedience = Lawful Rebellion. I view the GDC fees debacle as a microcosm of the wider cur... Read More
Monday, 03 November 2014 22:53
9318 Hits
JUL
28
0

To rant or not to rant ?

To rant or not to rant ?

That is indeed a question!!

Phew, what a scorcher

If you think the meteorological heat is oppressive, you want to try working in Wimpole Street. AirCon does nothing to relieve the heat of the pressure the GDC should be feeling.

What interesting, perhaps desperate times we live in.

The world is awash with wildfire wars with all the suffering that ensues.  The state of children’s teeth of those who do not ‘get’ the dental health message in this country remains an unresolved scandal.  Contract Reform of NHS Dentistry in England has become a fictional event of the future. The CDO England must be playing a lot of golf these days because there is naff all else going on. Dento-legal indemnity has started to rise in cost alarmingly as  the GDC and it’s woeful Fitness to Practise regime comes off the wheels.

But it takes a proposed rise in ARF to really galvanise the profession in a unanimous outpouring of anger.

 

Well directed anger?

This is being expressed in many ways – letters to MP’s, the professional Standards Authority, letters to the GDC allied to Freedom of Information requests to name but a few.  At meetings, the conversation is grim and consistent – it’s the GDC innit?

Even our old muckers the BDA have bared some teeth which, to judge by their public statements, are finally sharp enough to threaten injury.

What is happening so far can be summarised as a collective professional rant.  There is nothing wrong with that.  This process of ‘ranting’ is a precursor to something much more effective

It is well know that RANT is actually an acronym

 

The RANT acronym

 

  • Review your position
  • Analyse your options for Action
  • Notify interested parties of impending Action
  • Take action

 

Where are we?

I think we are heading out toward the last element, if only driven by the timescale.


A request for legal review, a BDA driven legal challenge, and protesting by payment in cash at the front desk of the GDC are just some of the actions being proposed.  What about resignation of a significant cadre of the dentists they need to make the processes and systems function?

 

What about calling for the resignation of the Dental Professional GDC members en masse?  It certainly seems to have merit.

 

Will the ARF be less than proposed? My money says “yes”

 

Will we see heads roll at the GDC?  The CEO, Ms Gilvarry for example? Its hard to see how her position can possibly remain tenable.  She certainly has lost our confidence, but I would imagine the GDC staff are pretty low as well.

What about our new appointed Chairman, Mr William Moyes?  His condescending e-mail to registrants allied to his Pendlebury Lecture suggest a level of isolation and ignorance that make you wonder how he ever got the job.  Based on his utterances so far, he simply does not get it.  Based on the lack of communication by the GDC’s Dental Professional members, I thinks its safe to assume the GDC has battened down the hatches and GDC Council Members are prevented from public comment. So much for transparency.  The ARF was not even an agenda item at the GDC Council meeting of 24 July.

 

Problem?  What problem?

The GDC have absolutely lost the confidence of the profession.  The have proved themselves to be the most incompetent of Regulatory bodies, and they are asking us to pay for their ineptitude.

 

The short answer Madam Chief Executive and Mr Chairman is “NO – NOT ON OUR WATCH”

 

You fix your problems first and we might talk then .

Until then, we will continue with the biggest professional RANT seen for many years.

Once again I profess my grateful thanks for the GDC’s role in uniting the profession, finally.

 

Enjoy your break people. Be assured, the heat will still be turned up when you return.

Yours, rantingly :)

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4456 Hits
JUL
23
0

Avoiding THE Question

Avoiding THE Question

Having just read the response from the GDC to the BDA’s questions about the Telegraph advert, it would appear that there is a distinct tone of avoiding answering the legitimate questions posed.

 

Coming from the Chair of the GDC, with his background at the Office of FAIR Trading, this again seems to be at odds with a desire to be open and transparent, and indeed with his recent comments about ‘doing the right thing’.

 

The admission that the cost of the advertising campaign cost over £27000 should now start a new round of questions to the GDC, since we as registrants are funding this exercise in awareness (the adverts were in Saga Magazine and The Guardian) to a demographic who are largely likely to already know of the mechanisms available to them to complain. In addition, in order to justify any money spent on advertising, this requires some form of review as to its success, so there will be yet more expense following this, otherwise it will have been a total waste of our money. Even if it is reviewed by salaried members of the DCS, whilst doing this pointless analysis, the time spent on this would be better utilised elsewhere.

But more importantly, how would we be treated by the GDC if we avoided answering their questions?  We have a regulator who now seems to run itself by a different set of values to those it expects its registrants to adopt.


Far from allaying any of the concerns of the profession, I feel the response from the chair has once again shown the contempt dentists are held in by the GDC. 

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6075 Hits

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