Dental Protection has called for the GDC to take a lenient approach to complaints related to the treatment of patients during this Covid-19 crisis.
This comes as a Dental Protection survey of over 500 dentists – which was completed by dentists following their return to practise – shows that a third (33%) feel their mental wellbeing is worse than two weeks ago. 55% of dentists in the same survey said that working in unfamiliar ways is a key concern, with 33% also saying that fear of regulatory investigation is having the most impact on their mental wellbeing.
In a letter to the Professional Standards Authority (PSA), which oversees work of all professional regulators of healthcare in the UK, Dental Protection has stated that guidance for the GDC and other regulators is needed that would provide more reassurance on the issue of when an investigation would be conducted or not.
Raj Rattan, Dental Director at Dental Protection said: “Dental professionals have faced a range of challenges throughout this pandemic, and many have now returned to practise in equally in unsettling and challenges circumstances – working in different ways, worrying about their health and that of their patients, and facing a backlog of patients with problems potentially due to the delay in treatment.
“The GDC and other regulators proactively issued a joint statement in March confirming they will fully consider the context which dentists have been practising in during this time when reviewing any complaints they receive. While we welcomed this statement, we believe members would welcome clear guidance from the PSA which would demonstrate in more detail how the regulators will ensure a proportionate approach will be taken, especially as it will likely be a number of years before such complaints might be handled and at a point when memories of this time have faded. A more lenient and considered approach to investigations seems entirely appropriate given the unique circumstances.
“The pressure and stress involved with working in unfamiliar ways, and the prospect of a regulatory investigation down the line, is clearly taking its toll on dentists’ mental wellbeing. I know that more reassurance on this issue would be greatly valued by our members who are doing their very best for their patients.
“I would also like to remind members of our counselling service for those experiencing work-related stress. The service is provided through a third-party partner and is completely confidential.”
The survey was conducted by the independent market research organisation, Research By Design (www.researchbydesign.co.uk). It ran from 18th to 29th May and achieved 506 responses from dental members in the UK.