HC Deb 04 December 1997 vol 302 cc304-5W
Mr. Gordon Prentice

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what steps he is taking to protect the public from incompetent dentists. [18725]

Mr. Win Griffiths

The Dental Practice Board has a statutory responsibility to the Secretary of State to monitor aspects of clinical probity in the General Dental Service in Wales and to initiate appropriate action in circumstances where acceptable standards have not been met.

Some 2,500 random examinations have been carried out in Wales since April 1997 by the Board's Dental Reference Service to provide assurance about the quality of diagnosis and treatment provided by individual dentists. About 1 per cent. of such examinations are referred to health authorities for consideration of appropriate action. There is also an established procedure for patient complaints. A health authority may refer complaints or matters of concern, whether from the Board or from a patient, to a Dental Discipline Committee for investigation. Only in a small proportion of such cases is the dentist found to be "in breach" of NHS Terms of Service.

A health authority can also refer allegations of a disciplinary nature to the General Dental Council, the NHS Tribunal or the local police authority.

The General Dental Council exercises statutory functions under the Dentists Act 1984 in relation to dentists' professional conduct and fitness to practise.

Section 27 of the Act provides that dentists shall be liable to have their names erased from the Dentists Register if they have been convicted of a criminal offence or have been guilty of serious professional misconduct. It is an offence for an unregistered person to engage in the practice of dentistry.

The Council at its November meeting approved the publication of new ethical guidance for dentists under the title "Maintaining Standards". This new guidance will be issued to all dentists on the UK Register.

Mr. Gordon Prentice

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will make a statement on the former NHS dentist, Mr. McDonald. [18723]

Mr. Win Griffiths

No. To do so may prejudice the appellate role of the Secretary of State for Wales in respect of Dental Service Committee Appeals.