GDC makes changes on patient protection

The General Dental Council (GDC) has announced new measures aimed at improving the handling of complaints. It also has plans for introducing revalidation and has issued guidance on discount deals.

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The GDC aims to improve the quality and speed of complaints handling to ensure patients are protected effectively. Among the key changes are: an increase in the number of decision meetings and hearings aimed at clearing a backlog of cases and reducing delays and an improved, front end diagnostic process to fast track the most serious cases and to deal proportionately with all other cases.

The GDC has also published an update on its plans for revalidation for dentists. The GDC’s statement emphasises the need for a cost-effective, workable and proportionate approach to revalidation. It says:

“Revalidation will mark an important change in the way dentists are regulated. We are therefore committed to developing an approach that works well for dentists at the same time as providing assurance to patients and the public that dentists are up to date and practising in accordance with the GDC’s standards.

They comment that their plans for revalidation will continue to evolve in the light of the findings of the 2010 consultation, research activity and on-going engagement with registrants and stakeholders.

Finally the prevalence of discount deals – offered by companies such as Groupon and Living Social – has prompted the GDC to issue a reminder to dentists and dental care professionals about their responsibilities to patients.

The GDC’s current guidance for registered dental professionals says they should not make claims which could mislead patients, they should be trustworthy and honest and they should ensure that they do not put their financial interests before their patients’ interests. The GDC can take action to restrict or stop a dental professional practising if these standards are not met.

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