UK Dentists register with GDC for 2013 but nobody knows who's insured or not

14 January 2013
That’s the claim from Bridge the Gap (BTG) campaigners as 39,000 dentists re-register with the General Dental Council for another year.

Because there is no formal system of checking if a practising dentist is properly indemnified there will be dentists opening for business again this January without adequate cover.

David Corless-Smith from the Bridge the Gap team said that according to the GDC’s own estimates 98% of dentists should be insured, but they currently have no way of measuring or monitoring it.
“It’s a guessing game as far as the GDC is concerned, wholly reliant on dentists ‘doing the right thing’. We know they don’t which leaves patients seriously exposed.”

An increasing number of stories have emerged in recent months of patients being poorly treated and then having no redress from uninsured dentists leaving them thousands of pounds out of pocket and in considerable discomfort.

David again: “There are a couple of other issues putting UK dental patients at risk here as well. One is that even if a dentist is insured he can refuse to instruct his insurers to co-operate in the event of a decent claim. This is particularly frustrating for patients because they know compensation is there and due, but they can’t get at it.

“Secondly a growing number of foreign-trained dentists are being allowed to register with the GDC - probably again this week - and then just leaving the country without trace when things go wrong. This leaves patients completely high and dry. Although we do know of some who are currently trying to track these dentists down.”

One of those is Gabriela Andrei from Plymouth, who – among several others -  is on the trail of a Dr Reichel from Poland. He left Gabriela with a bill of £18,000 to put right damage to her teeth. She says: “I think he has assets we could claim against if we can find him. I am determined to get justice.” 

Gordon Jackson, 62 from Boston in Lincolnshire, is also a victim of an untraceable dentist. A Dr Grabiec left Gordon with £5,000 of implants required after a simple cap replacement went awry. 

“We can’t find Dr Grabiec and although she was insured her insurance company will not co-operate without her say so. It’s all wrong,” said Gordon.

European legislation is expected later this year (October 2013) which will close the first loophole so dentists will have to be insured by law from then on. But it does not go far enough according to BTG campaigners.

David again: “We also want it to be legally enforceable for insurance companies to co-operate fully when a claim is being made. At the moment they don’t even have to acknowledge that a dentist is insured by them, citing the Data Protection Act. This makes it very difficult for patients to access justice.”