John Chope column
 

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John Chope column

 

John Chope column

John Chope asks how reassuring is our brave new flexible world of dental team regulation.

It seemed like a good idea at the time: a reformed GDC regulating the whole team, regarding all its registrants equally and relying on each one of them to exercise his or her own personal insight and professional judgement to interpret and follow its ethical principles.

After all, the standards that concern the GDC are straightforward standards. They are clearly articulated in the Council’s ethical guidance document ‘Standards for Dental Professionals.’ There are many benefits to this approach for both patients and registrants. It recognises and accommodates the inevitable evolution of professional standards and public expectations. And because it demands a personal understanding of professionalism, it encourages the individual to contemplate his or her own behaviour and performance and to rate it against societies’ norms. Without the fetters of a prescriptive regime weighed down with lists of dos and don’ts, this principled approach frees the spirit to soar to new heights of professional ingenuity and endeavour, and all for the gratification and betterment of patients. Doesn’t that all sound wonderful!

But where’s the certainty for patients and registrants? This is the question heard at the switchboard and repeated in the corridors and committee rooms of the GDC. Many yearn for the good old days when the GDC told you what sort of illuminated sign you could fix over your practice entrance or whether you should use a letter or postcard to communicate with patients. The protection organisations knew where they stood when advising members on the nitty gritty of ethical behaviour and colleagues could use the ethical rule book as ammunition against each other’s attempts at illicit advertising.

It’s not just dentists who now find themselves in a state of concerned uncertainty. Gone are the times when DCPs could recite their list of permitted duties. Under current rules, DCPs who can prove to the GDC they are trained and competent may practise any aspect of dentistry they choose. But how do you know whether your training is acceptable and how far are you permitted to extend your career by extending your duties?

The purpose of healthcare regulation is to provide reassurance. Dental professionals, both inside and outside the GDC, and patients as well, are beginning to ask whether this brave new flexible world is quite so reassuring as it should be. Some are even asking ‘may we have some more rules please?’

 Posted on : Wed 21st - Feb - 2007

 

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