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Dental Brief - February 2014

Burns Night Dental Drinks

Thank you to all who attended our annual Burns Night dental drinks, entertained with a poem and bag-pipes, plenty of whisky and haggis. A good time was had by all!

Advertising restrictions

The MHRA has upheld complaints regarding a dental practice that had infringed the prohibition on advertising prescription medicines. Dentists will need to ensure that their advertising follows MHRA guidelines.

GDC Logo

The GDC has made available a logo to be provided to dental professionals which can be used on their website and other materials to raise awareness of the importance of the dental regulations.

Call for Evidence

The Health Education department of North West London has called for evidence surrounding non- surgical cosmetic procedures. Recommendations will follow preliminary consideration of the results in early April.

GDC prosecutions

The GDC have announced that in December 2013 they made the following decisions:

  • 2 erasures with immediate suspension
  • 1 suspension for 9 months without review
  • 2 conditions reviewed
  • 1 reprimand after a finding of impairment
  • 1 suspension lifted
  • 1 finding that fitness to practise is not impaired.

Full details are available from the GDC website.

UDA dishonesty - strike off for dentist confirmed in the High Court

The High Court has dismissed a dentist's appeal against a GDC decision to erase him from the register (Mills v GDC [2014]). The Professional Conduct Committee found that Mr Mills had made inappropriate claims including claiming fees for sending out oral hygiene leaflets and dental health "passports".

It held that M knew that the sending out of those documents was not a "course of treatment" for which he could claim fees, and that the claims were motivated by financial gain in a dishonest attempt to minimise or avoid liability to repay what he owed to the trust.

The dentist appealed on the basis the sanction was too harsh but the High Court said it was the correct decision bearing in mind the GDC's duty to uphold proper professional standards and public confidence in the profession.


DPAS which runs a dental payment plan had an explicit agreement in 2004 with HMRC that these services were to be treated as VAT exempt.

Following a decision of the European Court of Justice in 2010 which stated that payment plans were excluded from exemption DPAS restructured its contracts allowing it to enter into direct contracts with patients effective from 1 January 2012 and therefore allowing it to be treated as exempt.

HMRC disputed this, and argued that the restructured contract was an ‘abusive practice’ leading to tax avoidance. The Tribunal dismissed this argument although it did comment that a change in the contractual arrangements cannot be used as a way to avoid tax.

The Tribunal examined the terms of the contractual arrangements and found that DPAS provided VAT exempt ‘payment services’ to patients. 

Dental Pilots Extended until March 2015

The Department of Health has announced that the dental pilot schemes will be extended until March 2015. A total of 90 practices are currently involved in the scheme.

Barry Cockroft, chief dental officer, said:

"The oral health of the nation has been improving year on year with some of the lowest tooth decay rates in the world. Our dental pilots had been exploring how dentists can work with patients to create personalised care plans, hoping to avoid dental problems before they arise. The pilots are also playing a vital role in overhauling the dental contract, by looking at how we can shift dental care to a more preventative approach, paying dentists for good oral health rather than the number of procedures they do, this is why we've extended the dental pilots for another year, to make sure these new methods are well tested before being shared across the rest of the country."

The second analysis of the pilot scheme has now been published. The second report focuses on the following questions:

  • have practices made an impact on risk and disease?
  • have practices met the treatment needs of their patients?
  • how have dentists adapted to the clinical operation of the pathway, including the use of software?
  • how have practices adapted to the pilot in the way they manage the business and their clinical responsibility?

Dr John Milne the Chair of the BDA has stated:

“This is an interesting and useful report and I urge all those with a stake in the future of NHS dentistry in England to read it. It identifies a number of complex learning points that must be addressed by continued dialogue between the Department and the profession before wholesale reform can be implemented.”

For more information please contact William Nash, Partner

T: +44 (0)20 7427 6518