BDA and GDC on collision course over title doctor

The General Dental Council (GDC) will put itself on a collision course with the British Dental Association (BDA) and most of its dentist registrants if it accepts a recommendation from its Standards Committee that dentists should not be allowed to use the courtesy title doctor. Despite the facts that large majority (90.4%) of respondents to the 12 week consultation on advertising believed that dentists should be allowed to use the courtesy title, it seems likely that the GDC will go ahead and ban it.


The recommendation to be put to the full Council meeting is that dentists should only be allowed to use the courtesy title ‘doctor’ and abbreviation ‘Dr’ if they have a PhD or are medically qualified and registered doctors. If this is agreed, the decision will be made in principle and an implementation strategy should be brought to the next Council meeting in May.

A number of respondents suggested that it would be difficult for the GDC to enforce a decision not to allow dentists to use the title, given the potential for deliberate non-compliance and the impact it could have on an already high fitness to practise caseload. Concern was also raised about the reputational effect for the GDC should it choose to enforce what might be seen by the profession as a minor issue.

The BDA in its evidence to the consultation said: ‘The BDA feels very strongly that dentists should be able to use the courtesy title ‘Dr’. The reasons for this are based on the extent of their training, common usage, research undertaken by the BDA and patient protection.’

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