Court of Appeal decision in Pawley case – part 19 or 20?

Readers of this blog, particularly those with an interest in dentistry will be aware of the developments that have been taking place over the last few years in relation to the issue of whether dental practices/owners are vicariously liable for the actions of associate dentists engaged by them and/or owe a non-delegable duty of care to patients treated at their practice.

The judgments in a series of recent cases (Ramdhean v Agedo and the Forum Dental Practice; Breakingbury v Croad; and Hughes v Rattan*) have all held that they do.

The practical difficulties for those working in the field of dentistry thrown up by these decisions arise in part due to the fact that dentists are required by The Dentists Act to have an indemnity arrangement in place which provides appropriate cover for acting in that capacity. The dentists are generally engaged on a contract for services i.e. are self employed and practice owners have relied upon that status and the statutory (and regulatory) requirement for a dentist to arrange indemnity. The practice owners have not previously arranged separate practice cover for injuries sustained by patients in the course of treatment.

Continue reading “Court of Appeal decision in Pawley case – part 19 or 20?”

Could restricted access to dental care lead to claims?

A recent article in The Telegraph has highlighted the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the dental health of children.

NHS figures reveal that the number of children having dental check-ups fell by 50 per cent during the first year of the pandemic. In total, the number of under 15s who saw a dentist fell from 5.8 million to 2.9 million.

It is, however, the youngest age groups which have been impacted the most. Whilst there were 1.2 million dentists’ appointments for under 5s in 2019, only 468,000 appointments were arranged for 2020, a 60% fall. The article suggests that only 1 in 7 children under the age of 5 saw a dentist in 2020 compared to 1 in 3 during 2019.

Continue reading “Could restricted access to dental care lead to claims?”

Further developments in non-delegable duty of care & vicarious liability

On 19 April 2020 HHJ Harrison in the County Court at Cardiff handed down judgment in the case of Breakingbury v Croad (unreported) 2021. Whilst the case concerns the provision of allegedly negligent dental care to the claimant, the trial of preliminary issues focussed on whether the dental practice owner, Mr Croad, owed a non-delegable duty of care to his practice’s patient, (the claimant) and/or whether, as owner of the dental surgery he was vicariously liable for the actions of the Associate dentists he engaged to perform NHS dentistry at the surgery.

The judge’s conclusions were surprising to many and have stimulated much discussion within dental forums and amongst insurers of those providing dental services.

Continue reading “Further developments in non-delegable duty of care & vicarious liability”

New GDC guidance on factors to be taken into account – a step in the right direction?

Following the joint statement published by regulators at the start of the pandemic, on 14 January 2021, the GDC published supplementary advice to decision makers on the factors to be taken into account when considering complaints arising during the pandemic.

The advice, which is to be welcomed, sets out the various contextual matters to be taken into account by decision makers which include environmental issues and resource, guidelines and protocols.

Continue reading “New GDC guidance on factors to be taken into account – a step in the right direction?”

Coronavirus: updated guidance for dental professionals on providing urgent dental care

On 15 April 2020, NHS England published updated guidance for dentists which addresses the provision of urgent dental care during the COVID-19 pandemic. The full guidance can be found here.

Further to NHS England’s previous guidance, it is reiterated that the provision of all routine, non-urgent dental care has been suspended until further notice. In providing urgent or emergency dental care, the guidance states that each COVID-19 urgent dental care (UDC) system should deliver the following:

Continue reading “Coronavirus: updated guidance for dental professionals on providing urgent dental care”

Managing the COVID-19 crisis for dentists – An update from the CDO

On Friday evening Sara Hurley, Chief Dental Officer hosted a live webinar for anyone interested in the current issues affecting dental services. By 6pm on Friday evening Ms Hurley closed the session reporting they had received over 3000 questions from those participating through the webinar chat function. This highlights both the involvement that dental practitioners are keen to show, as well as the uncertainty ruminating throughout the profession. Questions of course couldn’t all be answered, but reassurance was given that the questions will steer the policy makers to provide greater clarity in areas generating more uncertainty than others.

Continue reading “Managing the COVID-19 crisis for dentists – An update from the CDO”

The Coronavirus Act 2020 – implications for health and care practitioners, a round up

The Coronavirus Act 2020 (the Act) received royal assent on 25 March 2020, allowing the provisions initially for a period of two years, with the powers to be lengthened or shortened, and will be reviewed every six months.  Not all measures will come into force immediately as the Government has the power to switch these new provisions on and off when necessary. An overview of some of the provisions affecting health care professionals is outlined below.

Continue reading “The Coronavirus Act 2020 – implications for health and care practitioners, a round up”

Dentistry amid the COVID-19 crisis

In the midst of a healthcare crisis, there has been a flurry of activity and publications aimed at the dental profession which has continued to update with the changing landscape.  Although likely to become outdated in the coming weeks possibly even days, the below provides a consolidated overview of the current guidance and advice for dental practitioners from the GDC, the four Chief Dental Officers of the devolved NHS and the BDA.

The General Dental Council

The current approach of the GDC is based on two core principles:

  1. Minimising the burden of time and attention imposed on registrants.
  2. Maximizing the flexibility of registrants to manage their professional activities in response to the challenges of COVID-19.

Business Continuity – The GDC recognise that whilst efforts may be focused on how best to deal with the changing requirements there is still a role for regulation. The GDC does not expect any dental professional to be providing treatment unless they consider it safe for both patients and the dental team. Treatment is now limited to  urgent treatment. This will surely pose questions for practitioners about how best to offer services to such patients.

CPD – For those concerned about the cancellations of face to face CPD courses, practitioners should consider other activities such as web based learning. To further reassure, the GDC highlight that it is perfectly acceptable for practitioners to submit a return of zero hours if 10 or more hours were recorded in the previous year. They state that they will look sympathetically at the circumstances of those who may be left with a shortfall for the declaration they are due to make this year and that nobody will be removed from the register due to a lack of access to CPD during this period.

Continue reading “Dentistry amid the COVID-19 crisis”