UK: Dental Brief

Last Updated: 24 May 2011
Article by Jenin Khanam


Welcome to our first Dental Brief. We hope to keep you up to date with snippets of interest on dental regulation and law. Please let us have your feedback. If you know anyone else who might be interested in receiving updates quarterly – just 2 sides of A4 – please feel free to pass this on, and ask anyone interested to send us their contact details. Equally, if you wish to be removed from our mailing list, please let us know.

Alison Lockyer Resigns as Chair of GDC

The dental world was taken aback by Alison Lockyer's resignation on 6 May as Chair of the General Dental Council (GDC).

Kevin Lewis, Dental Director of Dental Protection's, stated that Dental Protection has been 'voicing its concerns for some time. The Fitness to Practise procedures were a case in point some of the recent policy decisions also suggested a fundamental lack of understanding of the dynamics of the profession and its relations with the public.

Allison Lockyer's resignation statement states that it cumulated as a result of "issues that have caused me concern". Concerns have been raised within the dental community regarding what these issues are, and rumours include those stating that the Chair had an "internal falling out with the GDC".

The GDC has issued a statement wishing Alison Lockyer well and confirming that the GDC is now "considering the process for appointing a new chair and any interim arrangements needed to ensure the continued smooth running of business."

Presumably the GDC will make sure it appoints a replacement who does not share Ms Lockyer's concerns. But will that be good for dental regulation or not?

Death at the Dentist – Chlorhexidine Risk

In January this year, a Coroner concluded that chlorhexidine contained within an everyday mouthwash used by a dental surgery was the main cause of the death of a patient who suffered anaphylactic shock while in a dental chair. Returning a verdict of accidental death, the Coroner noted that the patient had drawn no relevant allergies to the attention of the practice; the practice had done all that it could to try and save the patient's life, including recognising the symptoms of anaphylactic shock and administering adrenaline by injection whilst the patient was still in the chair.

An almost identical incident occurred on 2 February this year when a young woman, who went in for a routine cleaning, also had a suspected fatal allergic reaction to mouthwash. The post-mortem examination has been inconclusive and more information will have to await the inquest, which is scheduled to begin on 15 June.

Dentist should now be cautious in their use of routine mouthwash and be aware of the risk of reaction to chlorhexidine. Dentists should, where possible, incorporate a more rigorous questionnaire on allergies as well as ensure that consent for all treatments is given by patients prior to any treatment, no matter how mundane or routine.

The full details of this article are available at

CQC Closes Practice for 48 Hours

Despite CQC assurances that it would not take enforcement action during the transitional period, CQC helpline staff advised a dental practice on 4 May that due to the fact the practice had not validated is registration it was trading illegally and was required to shut down.

For 48 hours the practice closed its doors and enlisted the aid of CODE to take matters forward and obtain clarification. Eventually, the CQC Compliance Manager announced that CQC helpline staff were not authorised to insist on closure of practices due to lack of registration and must always refer such issues to a CQC Inspector for determination and any enforcement measures.

The practice re-opened its doors after 48-hours. However, the practice could have been shut for the duration of the 120-day registration period, resulting in significant loss of turnover and immeasurable loss of goodwill. We can advise on regulatory problems. It is always important to take prompt advice.

62 PCT Pilots

After a slight hiccup with the IT system dealing with the monitoring of clinical governance the Government has confirmed that 62 dental practices are to take part in the new dental pilot scheme commencing in the Summer of 2011.

The main aim of the pilots is to encourage and promote good oral healthcare and preventative action rather than the "drill and fill" routine of recent.

The pilots will run for a year with a view to extending until, pending Government approval, the new dental contract is ready in 2014.

Dentist will be paid for the number of patients seen rather than the number of course of treatments carried out. The capitation scheme will incorporate and weigh factors such as age, gender, environment and social deprivation in the payment structure. There are also provisions for some models to have a weighted capitation payment on high cost low frequency care.

Dentist will be given greater autonomy not only the quality of care provided but also the course of care provided to the patient.

Dentist will be keen to see the progress of the pilot scheme, which hopefully will address some of the negative aspects of the current contract, and move towards a contract that is both workable and rewarding.

A more comprehensive article outlining the full details of the scheme will appear in the June 2011 edition of the Dentist magazine.

On a Brighter Note

Don't forget to order your Justin Beiber musical toothbrush, due to be launched in the UK in July.

Along with a range of other Beiber dental products, two musical toothbrushes are available, one containing the tracks "Baby" or "U Smile" whilst the other contains the tracks "Somebody to Love" and "Love Me". Targeted at young children and teenagers, each track lasts 2 minutes - encouraging brushing for the recommended length of time whilst enjoying listening to a favourite Beiber track.

The products have already been launched in the United States and have been a great success. It is hoped with dentist endorsement the products that with the Beiber musical brush the younger generation will have a Beiber white smile.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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Jenin Khanam
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