Tariq Drabu Affair and Media Department Supports British Dental Association Position on GDC Direct Access Decision

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Tariq Drabu says, “I am very pleased that the British Dental Association has sent such a strong message across the dental community in the UK.”

Tariq Drabu Affair

Tariq Drabu Affair

I am delighted that the British Dental Association has sent such a strong message across the dental community in the UK

The Tariq Drabu Affair and Media Department set up by leading Manchester dentist and specialist oral surgery provider Tariq Drabu has today expressed its strong support for the recent statement from the British Dental Association (BDA) condemning the recent decision by the General Dental Council (GDC) to remove its barrier to Direct Access by the general public for some dental care professionals. The statement and press release dated 13 May 2013 can be seen here. Up until now every member of the dental team had to work on the prescription of a dentist which meant that patients had to be seen by a dentist before being treated by any other member of the dental team. The GDC press release published on 28 March 2013 is here.

The Tariq Drabu Affair and Media Department was set up by Tariq Drabu in 2012 to focus on and analyse current regulatory changes in dentistry. Commenting on the changes Tariq Drabu said “up until a few years ago the practice of dentistry was restricted to a small group, namely those doctors and dentists that were registered with the relevant regulatory bodies. Therefore it was limited and restricted as to who could practice dentistry; this was backed up by legal sanction if a non-registrant was found to be practising. In 2006 registration became compulsory for a further group of practising colleagues namely dental nurses, dental technicians, orthodontic therapists and clinical dental technicians – known as dental care professionals (DCPs). Therefore since 2006 the practice of dentistry has been redefined as being performed by these particular groups. However up until now each group has had its own parameters as to what it can and cannot do in terms of the practice of dentistry and that is known as the ‘scope of practice.’ Up until now it was a requirement in almost every case for a patient to see a dentist in the first instance and for the dental care professional to be working under the prescription of a dentist. So for example a dental hygienist could administer gum treatment to a patient on the prescription of a dentist as part of an overall treatment plan. Pretty much the only exception to this protocol is for the construction of complete dentures by a clinical dental technician.”

Commenting further on behalf of the Tariq Drabu Affair and Media Department he said “the introduction of Direct Access means that any member of the general public will have access to any member of the dental team without first referring to a dentist. This was one of the recommendations of a recent report to dentistry last year by the Office of Fair Trading. Many in the dental profession that the report was very one sided and made very far-reaching conclusions on the basis of some very flimsy statistical evidence particularly by extrapolating data. These far-reaching conclusions were then pounced upon by the media as the headlines and much of what is positive in the report about dentists and dentistry was overlooked. However whether we like it or not the OFT report was supported by the government and therefore it was inevitable that direct access would become the norm. Therefore I guess the question that we all have to ask ourselves will be ‘does seeing a dentist in the first instance increase the protection of the public or is it actually a restriction of practice?’ If you read the dental press you will see that the GDC is seen in a very poor light by the majority of dentists who are at best suspicious of its motives and actions. It has also been recently criticised by the healthcare watchdog the CHRE.”

The Tariq Drabu Affair and Media Department position of support follows the meeting of the British Dental Association General Dental Practice Committee (GDPC) on 10 May 2013. The GDPC represents dentists from all over the country. Tariq Drabu said “I am delighted that the British Dental Association’s (BDA’s) General Dental Practice Committee on Friday 10 May voted unanimously in favour of the motion: The General Dental Practice Committee condemns the flawed decision making process and subsequent decision of the General Dental Council to introduce direct access on the basis that its decision fails to protect patients.”

The Tariq Drabu Affair and Media Department noted the strong comments of GDPC Chair Dr John Milne who said “By voting unanimously in favour of this motion GDPC members have sent a clear signal about their view on the GDC’s recent decision. The debate which preceded the vote saw expressions of deep concern for patients and palpable anger at both the GDC’s failure to properly consider the evidence for the change and the haste of its implementation. The Council’s decision fails to promote the concept and value of the dental team, which we believe is integral to the delivery of safe, high-quality care for patients. In failing to do so, it is misguided.” Tariq Drabu said “I am delighted that the British Dental Association has sent such a strong message across the dental community in the UK.”

The Tariq Drabu Affair and Media Department highlighted reservations about the decision of the GDC which many dentists have. Tariq Drabu said “The purpose of the GDC is to be there to protect patients. I support the position of the British Dental Association that the removal of the dentist as a team leader will inevitably lead to a reduction in quality because only the dentist has the training to provide a comprehensive oral health assessment and then formulate a treatment plan to provide patients with an appropriate choice of the full range of treatment available to them. With this new decision dental hygienists and dental therapists can carry out their full scope of practice without a dentist’s prescription and without the patient having to see a dentist first and dental nurses can participate in preventative programmes without the patient having to see a dentist first. Cost is of course a factor but it should not be the overriding principle – however for some people it will be an opportunity to try and shop around for something cheaper than a visit to the dentist.”

In terms of the regulation and professional advancement the Tariq Drabu Affair and Media Department can highlight the team at Langley Dental Practice as an example of team development. Tariq Drabu said “here at Langley Dental Practice we have dental nurses who are trained to apply fluoride to patients and also take x rays. However this is under the prescription of a dentist as part of an overall treatment plan. I believe in developing every member of the dental team to their full potential and for career development in dentistry to be seen in the context of a process of lifelong learning and improvement but I believe that direct access even with all its current caveats will in the long term undermine patient safety.”

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