Dentists left ‘confused’ over scrapping of paedophile vetting scheme
 

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Dentists left ‘confused’ over scrapping of paedophile vetting scheme

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Dentists left ‘confused’ over scrapping of paedophile vetting scheme

 

Dentists left ‘confused’ over scrapping of paedophile vetting scheme

Dentists have welcomed the scrapping of the government's proposed vetting and barring scheme but feel there's been a lot of time wasted in preparing for it.

The government's original plans for the scheme were in response to an enquiry into the 2002 Soham murders.

Any dental professional changing jobs or starting work for the first time would have needed to have registered with the Independent Safeguarding Authority by next month – by 2015, all dental professionals would have needed to be registered.

But this week, home secretary Theresa May revealed the government U-turn on the scheme devised to protect children and vulnerable adults by preventing those who pose a known risk from gaining access to them through their work.

Sunil Abeyewickreme (above), a partner in Halliwells' Healthcare team in Sheffield voiced the opinion of many dental professionals who had been gearing up to the new regulations.

He said: ‘The vetting and barring scheme affected every healthcare provider in the country and virtually every member of staff who was employed by them. It is surprising late in the day for the government to announce that the scheme is to be suspended when the start-date of the first phase of registration is 26 July 2010.

‘This news will be welcome news to many of our healthcare provider clients. The vetting and barring scheme was widely criticised and regarded by many as yet another regulatory burden as it was designed to run alongside the existing CRB system rather than replacing it.

‘The scope of the scheme was unclear and there would always be uncertainty as to whether it extended to roles where it was questionable as to whether safeguarding concerns would arise.

‘However, many healthcare providers have put a lot of time and effort into ensuring that they had procedures in place to comply with the law, much of which has now been wasted.'

He adds: ‘By suspending the scheme at this stage, this is undoubtedly going to lead to some confusion, as regulations which were introduced in October 2009 would still continue to apply.'

Despite the removal of one tier of regulation, the British Dental Association is unhappy at the ‘heavy burden' of regulation on dentists in the UK.

A review of the BDA's advisory services for members reveals a significant surge in the demand for advice on regulatory issues, with the number of calls taken by BDA advisors each month increasing by more than 40% in the last three years.

As well as an increased number of contacts from members seeking information, there has also been an increase in the complexity of the advice they require.

This is reflected in longer and multiple contacts with individual members to help them resolve the issues they are confronting.

The BDA has responded to this demand by almost doubling the number of advice staff it employs in the last five years.

Susie Sanderson, chair of the BDA's executive board, said: ‘It is clear from our analysis that the challenges facing dentists are increasing and changing. Paramount among their concerns is the growing burden that changes to professional regulation are placing on their practices and the impact it is having on the delivery of patient care.

‘Recent years have seen a significant and disproportionate elaboration of the regulation of dentistry, with the publication of new decontamination guidance and the advent of the Care Quality Commission. We hope that this week's announcement of the halting of the proposed vetting and barring regulations signal a fresh approach to regulation that puts patient care before bureaucracy.

‘The BDA will continue to campaign for regulation not to be allowed to affect the delivery of patient care, while at the same time ensuring members are properly supported in complying with regulatory changes that are made.'

Director of Dental Protection, Kevin Lewis, echoes this concern.

He says: ‘The controls are out of control. There is a widespread feeling in the profession – and a growing sense of anger and frustration – that there are too many hoops for practitioners to jump through, often resulting in a duplication of effort and with no real justification in most cases. The evidence base for many of these new requirements being imposed upon dental practices is sketchy or non-existent. We desperately need a more balanced, logical and measured approach whereby any additional layers of governance are scientifically based and targeted where they are justified and most needed, rather than being applied across the board. The current environment is wasting the time, energy and money of many practitioners who are already doing an excellent job for their patients.

He adds: ‘The current excesses in the regulation of dental health professionals are impacting upon morale, deflecting effort and resources and ultimately not serving the best interests of patients. Now that many NHS practices are effectively operating on fixed incomes, any unnecessary expenditure in one area may need to be funded by cutting back on more constructive expenditure elsewhere.'

President of the British Assoication of Dental Nurses, Sue Bruckel, welcomed the move.

She said: 'Whilst we at BADN acknowledge the need to safeguard children and vulnerable adults, we welcome the government's decision to review the proposed scheme; and await with interest further developments.'

The General Dental Council are reminding dental professionals of the requirement to be aware of the procedures involved in raising concerns regarding possible abuse or neglect of children and vulnerable adults and drawing attention to Principle 1.8 of Standards for Dental Professionals which requires registrants to “Find out about local procedures for child protection.  Make sure you follow these procedures if you suspect that a child might be at risk because of abuse or neglect”.

Meanwhile, Janet Collins, head of standards at the General Dental Council (GDC) is promising to ensure members are up to date with changing regulation.

She says: ‘We will watch with interest the review into this scheme by the government. We will make sure registrants are up to date with any changes which affect their obligations under the scheme, as well as what information the GDC is obliged to share with the ISA.

‘We'd also like to remind dental professionals the GDC expects all registrants to be aware of the procedures involved in raising concerns about the possible abuse or neglect of children and vulnerable adults.

'As Principle 1.8 of Standards for dental professionals states, registrants should: Find out about local procedures for child protection. Make sure you follow these procedures if you suspect that a child might be at risk because of abuse or neglect.'


 Posted on : Thu 17th - Jun - 2010

 

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