When I qualified, long before the dark days of the UDA, there was a phenomenon known as the ‘Old Boys Network’ who worked amongst themselves to maximise any benefit they could get from the NHS system and from dental politics. I saw it first hand, and much of that has evaporated as the elders of the profession passed into retirement. It was generally a benign unofficial structure that didn’t cause much harm to dentists unless you somehow fell afoul of one of their number.
From my personal experience, it didn’t do much to improve the patient experience.
From a dentists perspective, things have changed in that regard, but not for the better. It would appear there is a growing trend for a hard-core of dentists who seem eager to throw their fellow professionals under the bus. They do this in numerous ways:
- They try to use the GDC as a weapon in business disputes.
- They will be overly critical of another dentist’s work, often encouraging the patient to sue their last dentist.
- Some have even taken to taking screenshots of social media posts that they deem offensive, posting these off to the GDC in the hope the regulator will impose some kind of sanction. Is this really what the GDC is for?
- They flaunt their wealth on social media, giving an unfair representation of the financial rewards that can now be achieved (the days when the majority of dentists could make an astounding amount of money from dentistry are long gone). This is potentially damaging to the egos of younger, more naive dentists, who often don’t appreciate that some of the wealth on display is either rented wealth or, more annoyingly, parental wealth. The really successful people don’t need to show it off because they have nothing to prove.
- Expert witnesses working for the GDC who don’t understand their remit and who feel they should be an advocate for the complaining patient, rather than an impartial expert. By their actions, they break the code of what an expert witness should be and risk unfairly ruining the lives of their fellow dentists. Although it hasn’t happened yet from what I can tell, there will come a moment when an expert witness gets sued for this, and then all hell will break loose. There have already been cases where expert witnesses, by failing in their duty, have been referred to the GDC. This all makes the profession, as well as the GDC, look bad.
Seriously, this madness needs to stop because it’s reprehensible, and anyone who does it for the wrong reasons should be ashamed of themselves. It is damaging people’s lives and fracturing the profession into camps that actively attack each other on formats such as Facebook.
A GDC referral for some can have devastating consequences. I would remind the bus throwers (who probably aren’t reading this, to be fair) of the research done by Sarndrah Horsfall. In a ten-year period, twenty-eight doctors killed themselves whilst undergoing fitness to practice procedures. Is that worth a petty squabble? Do you really want such a thing on your conscience? And also, do you want the social media scrutiny that such a case would create? … it would almost be inevitable for your name to come out as the instigator of the complaint. And no, I’m not saying registrants should refuse to abide by their whistleblowing obligations, but dentist-on-dentist referral to the GDC has to be made for the right reasons.
And all the while the government sits back and chuckles as we do their job for them, self-imploding and stripping ourselves of any semblance of our once-lauded professionalism.
Dentists are already starting to pick the bones clean and have ordered pudding.
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