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Jaws – Nobody is Exempt!
There was an innocuous and small press release from the GDC last month. It simply read – “The UK regulator of dental practice , the General Dental Council (GDC), has successfully prosecuted a man for unlawfully using the title dental technician. On Thursday 8 May 2014, Mr Luis Fairman appeared at Bodmin Magistrates’ Court and pleaded guilty to the offence of unlawfully using the title dental technician, contrary to section 39 (2A) of the Dentists Act 1984. The case was brought after Mr Fairman, who has never been registered with the GDC, unlawfully used the title on a YouTube video entitled “NHS Dentistry – Ed’s Story”. Mr Fairman has been fined £500 and ordered to pay a £50 victim surcharge. He must also pay costs to the GDC of £500.”
The hidden story is that Fairman’s company, Precision Dental Technology which supplies of materials to the dental industry, rose to fame in 1977 when its laboratory was chosen to manufacture the metal teeth worn by actor Richard Kiel in the James Bond films “The Spy Who Loved Me” and “Moonraker”. So, the GDC were not afraid of taking on the terrifying ‘Jaws’ who almost got the better of James Bond.
No one can claim to be a dentist, or a dental technician, without being properly registered with the GDC. Any claims, even if not meant for financial gain, is a breach of the Dentists Act 1984. By law, all dental professionals, including dental technicians, must be registered with the GDC to work in the UK.
We, as practitioners, have a duty and responsibility to check the registration of all outside contractors we might use. To be caught out using an unregistered technician makes us culpable and complicit in the Act too. We should ask, and receive, proof of registration for all contractors on an annual basis and keep this information on file in case we are asked to produce this on a CQC inspection. This has happened!
High risk behaviour
A few days later another technician was struck off for having – “exceeded his Scope of Practice by carrying out a course of treatment on a patient without a referral, prescription or other instruction from a dentist”. Again, this month, another man was prosecuted for the ‘unlawful practice of dentistry’, someone who was previously registered with the GDC as a dental technician.
The GDC are taking no prisoners in their prosecution of people in similar circumstances, as well as those providing whitening procedures in non-dental clinics. There have been seven prosecutions under criminal law in 2014 alone. The GDC public policy states–
“Effective regulation of dental professionals enhances patient safety, improves the quality of care and helps ensure public confidence in dental regulation. We take action against those who do not meet our standards or who break the law by working without being registered.”