Mr Dentist vs. The GDC (Not Yet Aired on ITVX)

The aim of this blog is to compare the scandalous, criminal, modus operandii of the PO and the methods of the UK regulator of dentistry, the General Dental Council [GDC]. There are many, many similarities in the way they persecute their "underlings" by abusing their power, and their institutionally ingrained, total lack of corporate insight.

Following the TV programme and the national outcry; politicians have now got involved in the idea of stopping the involvement of the PO in appeals by postmasters. This interference in justice, and in the fight to maintain power, the PO continues to delay the outcome of clearing the names of every single sub postmaster who has been convicted, injured, or lost money. This behaviour is the same as GDC being involved in appeals against its' own decisions. This has created a duplicate, in the denial of the basic human right to unfettered justice.


What has gone wrong in our UK QUANGO based governance system? The Government seems unwilling or unable to control the excesses of the QUANGO. The QUANGO gets involved too far into the quasi-judicial process. The QUANGO wishes to be judge, jury, appeal court, and the executioner. The balance of power has gone way too far towards these seemingly unaccountable bodies.


This must change urgently as this power has been used malevolently, yet their actions are still being justified by the GDC, and the Post Office.

Governance malfunctioning continues, and GDPUK has a further news story [due to be published in early January] on the same topic whereby an appeal in the High Court strongly supported by an eminent Judge against the GDC, is now to be appealed against by GDC, at further excessive legal cost to registrants.

There are so many examples of the GDC's egregious institutional behaviour, too many to list here.

During the last decade, GDC were pursuing so many dentists for alleged offences, they almost ran out of money, and this funding was and is raised entirely from its' registrants.  To repair their finances, GDC decided unilaterally to increase its' financial reserves to remain at around £30 million, this was done by taking about £750 from each of 40,000 registrants over a few years, and placing those monies in its reserve fund which must earn a good sum annually.

During this time the GDC Fitness to Practise [FTP] operation was faced with long delays in justice, and this delay remains today. The Professional Standards Authority report condemns this aspect of the GDC operations year after year, yet nothing changes. 

In this period the GDC advertised, [only the once, we believe] in a national newspaper, for more complaints against dentists. This was not repeated due to the enormous exclamation it produced. Was this part of a plan to investigate more dentists and build a larger quasi-non-governmental empire?

The tragic topic of suicides: Sadly, the ITV drama did refer to suicide and depressive illness caused by the PO treatment of sub-Postmasters. Unfortunately dental colleagues are only too aware of this issue in dentistry too. The GDC have been questioned for many years on this matter. They have not had to grace to answer this question properly despite multiple FoI requests.

GDC and their output of information: GDPUK does have an axe to grind; the GDC press and media office continues to refuse to engage with GDPUK, and it’s team of writers. That is, unless one of their junior managers emails us by accident.

Others have also found GDC far from co-operative, and this management style reflects the PO methods. Freedom of Information requests have become possibly the only way to seek answers, and there are multiple [dental] authors who specialise in carefully crafting artful requests to get some information released. It is apparent GDC devote significant resources dedicated to the dark arts of not responding at all, delaying responses, not answering the question, and then of course, redacting answers before sending out.

A simple solution to this would be insight by the GDC as a whole. The Council members and the executive officers. Make the press office transparent, give answers to questions in an honest way, do not act as if there is something to hide in every single enquiry. The present behaviour tells all colleagues across the nation – GDC is guilty of bad behaviour, it is doing everything to obfuscate. And this behaviour in hiding the facts further increases the profession’s suspicion of corporate malpractice.

The Care Quality Commission [CQC], another regulator of dental practice, cannot be spared from criticism here, either. They announced their arrival on the scene about 15 years ago, by publicly threatening dental practices with closure if they did not comply with their petty impositions of tasks and non existent regulations. The CQC has in itself spawned an industry of compliance experts to ensure a dental practice is not closed down. They have ruled by fear for many years, with threats to close the livelihood of dental practices. One example of their stupid over-reach, for more than a decade, every dental practice had to have a nutrition policy for their patients - even though patients do not eat or need to be fed for their dental practice visits. It is confirmed "meeting nutritional needs" remains one of the eleven core standards demanded by CQC. 

The ITV programme, a sensitive and sympathetic tale, has exposed some of the systemic issues within our nation. Individuals in influential roles in the Post Office, indifferent to the concerns of the sub-postmasters, they ignored outside investigations, and prolonged the ongoing problems for the victims.

This unfortunate reality is evident daily to our self-serving politicians, and this TV drama has brought it to the top of the national agenda. It's essential for politicians to reflect deeply, a truly long hard look at the harm being caused in the name of running our country.

Whether this is about the GDC or the Post Office, this is really about the abuses of power by people who hold those reins. The power of unaccountable civil servants or Quangos [from traffic wardens, housing officers to name but two groups) have over the general public. How they systematically exert that power over us daily, it certainly seems unjustified, and more than unreasonable.

Our politicians must establish a stronger framework of accountability to elevate standards comprehensively. After they make a transparent solution in the management and style of the PO, their next target for total reform must be the GDC.


1. The ITV page for the programme

2. CQC Regulation 14 

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Jim Page

Thank you for all you do for t...

Dear Tony I have now been retired for over 10 years but can I thank you for all you do for the profession that my grandfather, my ... Read More
Monday, 08 January 2024 17:34
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Dental Governance on a Human Scale?

Dental Governance on a Human Scale?

I have been reading coverage and watching interviews about the latest book by Steve Hilton. Apparently, he is the favourite political guru of David Cameron and therefore his ideas are ones we might expect to be implemented in the next five years. You might find a perusal of @stevehiltonguru on Twitter to be interesting, his TV appearances suggest he has been coach to “Call me Dave” in the way Chris Barrow has been a polarising national coach to the UK dental profession.

Our profession has massive frustrations with our daily lives and the restrictions which are all around us, reaching out to almost affect our pattern of breathing. Steve Hilton argues that what has happened, as our information society has developed, is that it has become easier and easier for systems which we must follow to be written and then codified. I believe our dental profession has been trapped by this codifying of systems, almost trying to make every dentist work and behave in the same way, with the same paperwork, the same records. The words I am using here could be used for every field in the UK, ask your spouse, your friends, professional colleagues, business people, all are being stifled by the weight of the state's hefty duvet of regulation.

In the 20th century, Hilton argues, due to the way communications worked, only the people in the centre were able to make decisions, and these rippled out, in some cases enforced. Before the Industrial Revolution, decisions were taken locally as the communications of the times meant a distant ruler in the capital city may impose large scale decisions such as war and taxation. The King in the castle could not micro-manage the daily actions of subjects hundreds of miles away, the local lord, or sherrif imposed their version for their area.

Can the philosophy of applying those systems allow us to be trusted again with making our own decisions, our own leadership, rather than being force fed by the nanny state?

Nationally, this broad idea encompasses powerful, executive, city mayors. This concept is being taken forward, we will see this as more and more city mayors take office across the UK. The benefits will be a translation of what may be a well meaning law or regulation emanating from a Whitehall Minister's desk, into what this means in a locality, where a well argued, seemingly sensible, national edict may be counter intuitive to the situation on the ground.

If there are to be more and more local mayors, or decision makers, could this idea be applied to dentistry? Many agree that the whole profession is frustrated daily by the national edicts which do not fit in with how we run things on the ground, in our own practices, or in our own areas?

In oral health provision, the needs of differing areas do vary widely. Truly local decisions will help people on the ground, the providers of healthcare working together with the recipients of this care. How can we move the profession away from political control, away from the politicos who are able to speak publicly and utter soothing platitudes, but when devising and enacting changes, they seem to be regularly and plainly wrong? But our decision makers must be of the people, possibly elected, and definitely not from the present Dental Public Health elite who continue to drive change in their narrow eyed image.

Decision making for the future of our profession needs to be more human, more involving, and not just showered onto dentistry from the top down. This itself will mean different things to different people, but will allow concepts from grass roots to flourish, we have many mechanisms for communication, to set the agenda, and make the changes. The age of imposing change must now be over.

My call now is for our largest trade union, the BDA, to take this forward to this new Government on terms that fit in with their style, their politics, their understanding,  in order to make a change to the top down mindset. This is about freedom, modern politics, and a move away from the paternal style of the last century, using modern coimmunications but not only in a single direction.

Image from Guido Fawkes site
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Recent Comments
Anthony Kilcoyne

Top-Down remote Hierarchy

I agree TJ, the past Decade+ of top-down dictatorial experimentation has failed Patients and the Profession. It's time to acknowl... Read More
Thursday, 21 May 2015 09:11
Keith Hayes

Human scale yes, but which hum...

I agree, wouldn't it be nice if we could take the clock back and have a dental profession which was responsible and self governing... Read More
Thursday, 21 May 2015 17:55
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