GDC should stop wasting resources says BDA

The General Dental Council (GDC) must prioritise its role in protecting the public and stop wasting time and resources on whether dentists should be allowed to continue using the courtesy title ‘doctor’, the British Dental Association (BDA) has argued in a letter from chief executive, Peter Ward, to the GDC today. The letter has been sent ahead of a meeting of the GDC’s Council on Thursday (24 February 2011), which is due to consider a recommendation by GDC’s Standards Committee that dentists no longer be permitted to use the courtesy title.

The BDA’s letter argues that, at a time when the GDC faces financial constraints and significant difficulties coping with the demands of its Fitness to Practise caseload, it should focus its resources on addressing this problem, a role the BDA believes is far more crucial to the GDC’s mission of protecting the public. The letter also challenges the GDC to publish details of the resources it has already expended in reviewing this issue and the resources it believes would be necessary to implement and enforce a new position if one is adopted.

The letter also warns of the significant harm a move to strip dentists of this courtesy title could do. It points to the potential for the public’s trust in the profession to be diminished by a decision that could appear to downgrade the profession, and predicts confusion about the qualifications of many dentists from overseas whose qualifications are of an equal standing to their UK-trained counterparts but whose degree designations confer on them the right to use the Dr title.

Dr Susie Sanderson, Chair of the BDA’s Executive Board, said: “That the GDC is choosing to devote time and resources to this issue when it should be concentrating on addressing the backlog of Fitness to Practise cases identified as an issue by the Council for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence is nothing short of astounding. Dentists and dental care professionals have seen hefty increases to their annual retention fee and will not be impressed by this profligate use of the GDC’s swelled funds.

“The use of this courtesy title is not an important issue for the public. A ban has the potential to confuse patients, harm the reputation of the profession and create confusion about the equivalence of dentists who have qualified in different countries. We urge the GDC Council to reject the recommendation of its Standards Committee and instead concentrate on the areas of its work that deliver a real benefit to the public.”

The BDA’s letter is available at:


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