New health watchdog must not be a burden on dentists
 

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New health watchdog must not be a burden on dentists

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New health watchdog must not be a burden on dentists

 

New health watchdog must not be a burden on dentists

A leading dental commentator is urging all dentists to respond to this autumn's fee-setting consultation over registration with new health watchdog, the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

CQC registration becomes a legal requirement for all primary dental care providers by April 2011.
Dentists have until then to register in order to avoid breaking the law.

And Roger Matthews, chief dental officer with dental payment plan specialists, Denplan,
is advising that ‘whether you're a private, mixed or NHS dentist' you should make it a priority to ‘get involved in the fee-setting process'.

Although there is no initial joining fee, primary care dental providers will be expected to pay an annual fee once registered, the cost of which has yet to be decided.

Dr Matthews says: ‘The Care Quality Commission has announced it will “consult on a long-term approach to fees” from April 2011, in a process starting later this year.

 ‘Denplan urges dentists to look out for – and participate in – this process. It is important that primary care dentistry, whilst an integral part of general healthcare, is seen as a relatively low-risk environment compared, say,  to acute in-patient units or long-stay care homes.'

He adds: ‘We believe that a proportionate approach should be taken in this light, and the fees decided on should also respect the fact that many, if not most, dental practices are very small businesses.'

The CQC took over from the Healthcare Commission on 1 April this year and dentists are part of a second wave of health professionals required to register with the watchdog.

This will be in addition to registration with the General Dental Council (GDC).

The intention is that the new CQC will operate as a ‘one-stop-shop' for health and social services regulation in the UK and, under the new framework, all providers will be expected to conform to a single set of safety and quality requirements, with legislation in place to support this.

Peter Hodgkinson, dental advisor to the CQC, explains the move, saying: ‘There is an appetite in the profession for more sectors to harmonise.'

Publicity from the Commission reads: ‘Registration isn't just about initial application for registration. We will continuously monitor compliance with the essential standards as part of a new, more dynamic, responsive and robust system of regulation.'

And Denplan's CDO makes it clear this could mean inspectors from the health watchdog turning up at practice doorsteps to make checks – legally, the Commission has the right of entry unannounced.

He adds: ‘The weight of regulation falls particularly heavily already on this sector and dentists should be prepared to lobby their professional organisations and MPs to support this [proportionate] approach.'

The CQC intends to begin the consultation process regarding a long-term approach to fees later this year but no start date has been announced.

Registrants – and this can be an individual, a partnership or an organisation – can apply for registration from October this year, but anyone who needs to be registered MUST do so before the 1 April 2011 deadline.

A pilot is planned this month to test the whole registration process.

Sue McMillan, the CQC's regional director for the North West region, addressed a BDA Conference seminar in Liverpool last month which was aimed at enlightening dentists on what registration means for them.

She said that the CQC had a ‘good lifetime ahead of it' and that there was a ‘growing role around the area of quality' which was a ‘positive message'.

She explained that the set of standards of quality and safety ‘focused on clinical outcomes and the patient experience' and that the aim of the regulator was to ‘work in partnership' with the profession.

In a questions-and-answers session which followed, she told the dentists in attendance that ‘not every piece of information' regarding the standards of individual practices would be in the public domain, but  that any practices failing to comply with the agreed standards could be reprimanded.

This includes the power to issue warning notices, impose conditions upon a practice's registration or – in the worst case scenario – cancel a provider's registration which would make it illegal for them to operate.

Non-compliance can also mean a fine of up to £50,000.

The CQC legally has enforcement powers which means it can take ‘swift, targeted action where services are failing the people who use them'.

There is a CQC guide for providers of primary dental care services explaining the new system of registration and what is required.

For further information, visit the website at www.cqc.org.uk/registration where you can also download Essential standards of quality and safety. You can also email enquiries@cqc.org.uk.


 Posted on : Wed 26th - May - 2010

 

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