One rule for you, one rule for the rest…

Inspired by John Naughton.

Picture this – one dentist manages to lose one set of notes of one patient, who was one month old, who had made one visit to the practice as an emergency and treatment consisted of examination and parental reassurance. The notes are passed to a recognised third party for disposal but turn up on a patch of waste ground. The CQC and the GDC would be involved and that dentist would probably go through months of anxiety whilst it was decided how big the case was for them to answer.

Meanwhile…. “sometime between mid-May and July, Equifax was hacked via a security flaw in the Apache Struts software that it used to build its web applications. The flaw, which gave hackers an easy way to take control of sensitive sites, had been fixed on 6 March and patches were made available to every organisation that used Struts. That meant, as various commentators pointed out, that Equifax’s IT department had the tools to plug the security holeand two months in which to do it. For some reason, they didn’t.

As a result, the hackers were able to steal the personal information of 143 million Americans. It is the most important financial data available on any citizen – names, dates of birth, social security numbers, home addresses and in some instances a lot more, including credit card details of more than 200,000 US consumers (and some UK consumers). It’s everything you need to engage in identity theft on an epic scale. “On a scale of 1 to 10 in terms of risk to consumers,” said a fraud analyst at consultancy firm Gartner, “this is a 10.””….

…Equifax discovered the breach on 29 July, but didn’t reveal it publicly until 7 September, no doubt because the internal investigation was long and complex. During that period, however, three of its senior executives unloaded shares in the company valued at $1.8m. But this, apparently, was completely coincidental: the poor dears (who included the chief financial officer) were not aware that an intrusion had occurred when they sold their shares. 

…..if some poor unfortunate forgets to pay a library fine and then discovers that they can’t get a loan because a check on Equifax’s database reveals the payment lapse, well… that’s just tough. If you want to understand the populist revolt, then this is a good place to start.


The Monday Morning Quote #369

“And I won’t sit down
And I won’t shut up
And most of all I will not grow up”

Frank Turner excerpt from Photosynthesis

– thanks to Colin Campbell whose superb presentation “My Fitness to Practice (FtP) case and other more important matters” was one of the highlights of the BDA Conference in Manchester this weekend. Colin quoted Frank Turner’s lyrics during the conclusion of his presentation.

To read more about Colin’s case and presentation take a look here, here and here and subscribe to his blog.

Whilst you’re reading enjoy Frank’s song.

GDC v BDA – contd (for UK readers only)

Press release

5 April 2016

BDA: ‘new era’ at GDC comes with £½ million cleaning bill

The British Dental Association (BDA) has issued an open letter to General Dental Council chair Bill Moyes, in response to his recent comment piece: A new era of dental regulation.

The article, published in The Probe in March, contained numerous misrepresentations on the PSA’s whistleblowing inquiry and un-evidenced assertions about the rise of patient complaints.

The BDA has now published figures from a recent Freedom of Information request to the GDC indicating it spent over £¼ million on legal costs during the whistleblowing enquiry. Factoring in the added costs of staffing changes this amounted to a total outlay of over £½ million.
The FOI has also identified £250,000 bill to leading international PR firms, for a wide range of services beyond, including prepping the chair and former Chief Executive for their appearance in front of the Health Select Committee in March 2015.

Mick Armstrong, Chair of the BDA said:

“This profession wants nothing more than an effective and efficient regulator, but that journey will only begin when the GDC can show it is capable of confronting some hard truths. Sadly this recent article revealed its leadership is unwilling to even start down that road.

“The Chair has gone to great lengths to absolve the current Council from the sins of the past. A glance at any calendar shows that the bid is futile, as the PSA inquiry into the handling of the whistleblowing issue fell into the time of the current Council. To suggest that the current Council had nothing to do with this inquiry but simply oversaw the rectification of the problem is a stunning misrepresentation. Given the Council’s own deliberations in public, these feelings may also not be shared by the other Council members.

“Bill Moyes has again demonstrated he would rather spend registrants’ fees on firefighting than acknowledge any error on his part. This half million pound price tag for avoidable legal costs and tokenistic staffing changes is particularly galling, and flies in the face of stated commitments to openness and transparency with the PSA on whistleblowing. The GDC chair clearly wants this profession to believe he has clean hands – and this it seems is the cleaning bill.

“The GDC Chair’s conduct seems less like a new era for regulation, and more business as usual.”

What would John Ruskin have said about Groupon in Dentistry?

sad_grouponThe news that a practice in Manchester has gone bust is sad for the patients, the associates and the staff. The fact that this practice had apparently been selling orthodontics via Groupon limits the sympathy that I feel for the owner(s). If anyone has heard me speak in recent months then they will have had no doubt about my feelings regarding the race to the bottom tactics adopted by many “business people” running practices who seem to think that a weekend course or two and a slick marketing allied to a named treatment system is the key to riches.

Here’s a link to the MEN: Angry dental customers left out of pocket after cosmetic firm’s collapse

Of course it’s cases like this that the GDC should be policing and preventing but no amount of CQCs will address it. With Chairman Moyes’ ideas about Dental Care being just a variation on grocery shopping surely the consumers should be protected before the event rather than more ethical colleagues being left to pick up the pieces and restore dentistry’s reputation. No doubt the GDC will chase the associates and the nurses because they are easy meat but the really guilty people will get away with it muttering “Caveat Emptor, don’t you think Dr Bill?”.

What odds on the next good idea to emerge from 37 Wimpole Street being that all dentists who do any private dentistry (and are thus unfaithful to THE brand – NHS) should be forced into an ATOL type of cover so that claims against one dentist can be shared by all. The administration will no doubt come through an arm of the GDC, will be paid for by all registrants who have the temerity to do any private work and will be hailed as a victory for the consumer.

Before this develops into another rant, I’ll share with you the words of John Ruskin which I had typed, framed and hung in my reception area when I turned my back on the NHS in 1992.

  • “It’s unwise to pay too much, but it’s worse to pay too little.
  • When you pay too much, you lose a little money – that’s all.
  • When you pay too little, you sometimes lose everything, because the thing you bought was incapable of doing the thing it was bought to do.
  • The common law of business balance prohibits paying a little and getting a lot – it can’t be done.
  • If you deal with the lowest bidder, it is well to add something for the risk you run, and if you do that you will have enough to pay for something better.”

 and as footnote:

  • There is hardly anything in the world that some man cannot make a little worse and sell a little cheaper, and the people who consider price only are this man’s lawful prey.

It’s all rather sad but predictable.

2016 #24

All UK Dentists should watch this.

logo-mainIf you’re a dentist and not UK based, or not a dentist at all then look at the way that UK government works.

This is a clip from Parliament TV featuring the House of Lords Grand Committee, discussing “Orders and regulations: General Dental Council (Fitness to Practise etc.) Order 2015”. Meeting held on January 18th 2016 starting at 3.30pm.

Lord Hunt speaks from 15.43pm and gives the GDC quite a kicking. Will they listen? More to the point will the people who appointed the current Chief Executive and Chairman listen?

Tesco v Waitrose v Lidl v Sainsbury

vector-shopping-set_G1HDJkL__LIn his Pendlebury lecture of June 2014, the then recently installed chairman of the GDC William Moyes informed those present that, “Dentists and dental care professionals now have customers, not clients ………or, indeed, patients.”. It was nice of a government appointed non-clinician to share the official view with the profession, now who will tell the patients I wonder? But we have heard it all before, who will ever forget Edwina Currie’s oh so clever speech on similar lines at the LDC dinner when she was at the DoH. He went on to tell the audience about how, “the Council’s first priority for 2014 is to strengthen our fitness to practise regime”. All going smoothly there, Bill.

Elsewhere he told The Times that he thinks that “Consumer pressure for a “Lidl to Waitrose” model of treatment would be more effective than inspections in exposing poor care”. Presumably each practice will get the patients it deserves but that’s marketing for you. I was reminded of both Dr Moyes’ opinions and Alan Coren’s comment that, “he liked Sainsburys because it kept the riff-raff out of Waitrose” when I read Paul Burke’s blog on Saturday. (Paul is a music insider who always links a piece of music to his observations.)

The real difference between Tesco and Waitrose.

“It’s not the food, it’s not the prices, it’s the customers. Waitrose customers tend to be brisk, middle-class and both quick and efficient in the way they live their lives and do their shopping. They’re in and out with a minimum of fuss. The Tesco clientele are rather different. They lumber slowly and gormlessly up and down the aisles – two abreast- like they’re in some sort of trance. Then they just stop at the most inconvenient places to discuss whether they should get the large or medium box of Corn Flakes. I was in Tesco this morning for what seemed like hours. By the time I finally escaped, I was on the brink of a breakdown…”

Not sure what he would think of Lidl and Aldi – presumably their dental patients, yes they are patients Dr Moyes as I am when I experience healthcare, would go in and during their appointment be heard to say to their partner, “Oh, that’s a shame they don’t have the filling that I had last week, they have run out but they tell me they are hoping to get more in next month, or I can try this Bulgarian one if I like”.

I wonder what you and your council at the GDC would make of that.

2016 #12

How badly must a regulator perform before someone intervenes, asks BDA

Please see below our response to the PSA’s annual report on healthcare regulators which was published on Friday.

26 June 2015
How badly must a regulator perform before someone intervenes, asks BDA

The British Dental Association (BDA) is concerned that the General Dental Council (GDC) has come bottom of the league in an assessment of the performance of nine healthcare regulators, published today by the Professional Standards Authority (PSA).

The PSA highlights that the GDC failed to meet a total of seven of its standards of good regulation.

On fitness to practise, the GDC fully met only one of the 10 standards, and failed to meet six others, representing what the PSA describes as a significant decline in its performance compared to an assessment it carried out in 2013/14.

The BDA notes that the jury couldn’t decide on whether the GDC had met two additional standards on fitness to practise pending an ongoing enquiry by the PSA.

The PSA has yet to comment on whether it considers the GDC’s activities in this area are “transparent, fair, proportionate and focused on public protection”.

Commenting on the PSA report, BDA Chair Mick Armstrong, said:

“Sadly this report makes familiar reading.  Yet again GDC registrants must acknowledge that they are being regulated by the worst health regulator in the UK.  What is worse is that, as far as dentists are concerned, it is now also the most expensive by a country mile.

“The findings in relation to fitness to practise come as little surprise as stories of waste, mismanagement and unreasonable practices abound.

“It is difficult to understand how badly the GDC has to perform before someone actually intervenes.”


(To access the report here’s the link.)

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