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Wednesday, 17 January, 2001, 00:24 GMT
Private dentists regulation call
Private dentists could come under the new watchdog
Private dentists could come under the new watchdog
The Consumers' Association has said measures to police the private health sector are "toothless" because they fail to cover private dentists.

It is backing a private member's bill which will call for private dentists to be covered by the new Care Standards Commission which will come into operation next year.

The Consumers' Association say that currently patients who receive poor treatment from private dentists have limited options.

They can complain to the General Dental Council but it can only deal with complaints relating to cases of professional misconduct.

It's appalling that private work done by dentists is not properly regulated

Clara Mackay
Consumers' Association

Patients' only other option is to sue the dentist or practice themselves.

Private dental work relates to those dentists who do a mix of NHS and private work or only practise privately.

Private sector regulation

The Care Standards Commission will cover private health providers including hospitals and cosmetic surgery clinics.

The Private Dental Practitioners Bill, a private members bill being brought by MP Ann Clwyd will receive its first reading on Wednesday.

Clara Mackay, principal policy advisor for the Consumers' Association said: "More and more people are using private dental services - and not necessarily by choice.

"This is one area of private health care that must not be permitted to continue to operate without proper safeguards in place.

She added: "It's appalling that private work done by dentists is not properly regulated, and that there is no independent complaints procedure to allow people to get redress when something goes wrong.

"We want the law to be changed to introduce the regulation of private dental work, before the Care Standards Commission is up and running next year."


Ann Clwyd said: "I am delighted to be able to take forward a Bill which, if successful, would ensure that standards are set for private dentistry and allow patients to have their complaints properly dealt with.

"The Bill would close a serious loophole in the Care Standards Act."

She told BBC News Online: "There's no reason if the public health care sector is regulated that the rest shouldn't be."

A spokeswoman for the British Dental Association (BDA), dentists' professional body, said it backed the overall aims of the Consumers' Association to ensure that private dentistry was properly regulated.

But she said it wanted all dentists, NHS and private, to be covered by the same regulatory rules.

"The BDA wants an extension of NHS procedures to cover private dentists since most run mixed NHS and private practices.

"The alternative would be confusing for both dentists and patients."

She added that the BDA supported the General Dental Council's (GDC) initiative to create a private complaints procedure.

A spokeswoman for the GDC said: "The GDC regards the protection of the public as of prime concern across all areas of dentistry and believes regulation to be part of the key to achieving this.

"Any measures designed to strengthen regulation should take account of the need for clarity and reduce the scope for potential uncertainty among patients and professionals as to the regulatory systems involved."

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See also:

17 Jan 01 | Health
'My dental agony'
19 Sep 00 | Health
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How dentists are paid
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