As we launch a campaign to Clean Up Dental Costs, the General Dental Council tells us about the dentistry standards it enforces across the industry and how it takes action. Find out more in this guest post from the GDC:
The General Dental Council (GDC) welcomes Which?’s survey findings that overall, patients have a high level of trust in the advice their dentist provides. There were examples of good treatment in the Which? mystery shopping exercise. However we are concerned that the research findings also highlight areas of poor practice in dentistry.
Which?’s research provides valuable insight into patients’ experience of the treatment options offered when visiting their dentist. These reflect the GDC’s own research findings about the need for effective communication with patients.
Therefore, the GDC’s main guidance document ‘Standards for the Dental Team’, published in 2013, sets out the standards of conduct and performance expected of registered dental professionals. It says that dentists must discuss treatment options, give clear explanations about NHS and private treatment, display price lists and provide treatment plans.
These standards are available on a microsite that can be viewed on a mobile phone or tablet so that dentists can look at them easily.
Good dentistry means clear communication with patients
We are taking further action to stress how important it is that dentists communicate clearly with patients about their treatment options.
- Delve in to the reasons why dental professionals may not always follow the standards expected of them.
- Conduct research into what patients want to know about treatment options.
- Create a shared expectation between patients and dentists of what that information is and how it can best be delivered.
- Require dentists to undergo continuing professional development. This keeps their knowledge up to date and ensures they practise in accordance with the GDC standards.
- Analyse the information that the GDC receives from patients about problems with their dentists, in order to understand areas of poor practice and how they can be prevented.
- Work with schools of dentistry to underline how important it is to include communication in training and education.
- Obviously if we find that dentists are not complying with our Standards, and misleading patients, then we can – and do – take action. This is highlighted by the fact that the GDC has seen a steady increase in cases involving pricing since the new standards came into effect. (The number of cases went from 33 in 2012 to 114 in 2014.)
For patients we recommend our ‘Smile’ leaflet which provides practical guidance about what you can expect when you visit the dentist. It also lists the organisations that you can contact if you have concerns.
Do you understand the pricing and treatment plans available at your dental practices? How do you ensure you’re paying the correct amount for your treatment?
Which? Conversation provides guest spots to external contributors. This is by Janet Collins, the Head of Standards at the General Dental Council. All opinions expressed here are Janet’s own, not necessarily those of Which?