General Dental Council proposes revised guidance on indemnity and insurance


  Posted by: Dental Design      29th March 2023

The General Dental Council (GDC) is consulting on plans to improve its guidance on indemnity and insurance, to support dental professionals in meeting their obligations to patients. 

Dental professionals are required by law to have appropriate indemnity or insurance in place before they practise. This is to ensure that, in the rare instances that any patient suffers harm during the course of treatment, they can seek appropriate compensation.   

Whilst indemnity or insurance is there to help patients seek compensation on the rare occasions things go wrong, it also protects dental professionals from being personally liable for financial consequences. 

Dental professionals must engage and cooperate with their provider should a patient makea claim and ensure that their actions, or inaction, do not invalidate their indemnity or insurance cover.  

The GDC is proposing changes to its guidance on indemnity and insurance to ensure it is up-to-date and better supports dental professionals to understand and meet their legal and regulatory obligations, in the interest of patients and maintaining public confidence in the profession.  

The proposed changes will explain the different types of cover available and highlight the additional benefits that dental professionals should consider when arranging cover, such as advice and support for their wellbeing during a claim.  

The GDC invites interested and affected parties to share their thoughts and views on the proposed updates by 20 June when the consultation closes.   

Stefan Czerniawski, GDC Executive Director, Strategy, said: “Our priority is that patients are kept safe in the first place and that compensation therefore is unnecessary. However, in those rare and regrettable instances where something has gone wrong with treatment, it is essential that patients get the compensation they are entitled to. It’s important that dental professionals understand their responsibilities and can make the appropriate decision about indemnity or insurance and their actions, so that patients are not adversely affected. This revised guidance aims to do just that.”

GDC draft indemnity guidance a positive step forward, says Dental Protection

Dental Protection has welcomed the publication of updated guidance from the GDC on professional indemnity which aims to provide dental professionals with a more comprehensive understanding of what questions to ask when arranging protection.

The GDC consultation launched today proposes a checklist of questions that dental professionals should run through when choosing their protection, including whether there are financial limits, whether the product is occurrence-based or claims-made, and whether it includes assistance with disciplinary and GDC proceedings as well as wellbeing support.

Most dental professionals are members of a dental defence organisation such as Dental Protection – a mutual not-for-profit organisation that uses its discretion to positively look for ways to assist when members need support.

Dental Protection members have protection that does not include financial caps, so they do not need to worry about the prospect of having to cover any costs that exceed a limit. Their protection is occurrence-based which protects them long into the future without the need to purchase run-off or ‘tail’ cover when they end their policy, retire, or leave dentistry. It also includes the right to request assistance with GDC investigations and manage other risks, as well as wellbeing support.

The alternative is to take out an insurance contract with an insurance provider, which specifies what assistance the insurer will and will not provide, and to what level. Different products will specify different levels of protection.

Dr Raj Rattan, Dental Director at Dental Protection said: “The differences between the indemnity and insurance options available are complex and this draft guidance is a positive step forward in helping dental professionals understand the indemnity requirements, the options available, and make an informed decision on protection that is right for them. A dental professional’s career is too important to risk by not having the right level of protection in place.

“We welcome the plan to provide more detail on what the different options do and do not include, for example, support with a fitness to practise investigation. Dental Protection has previously called on the GDC to stress the importance of having support in place for GDC investigations, in addition to claims, as sadly many dental professionals appear before a GDC hearing without legal representation and are more likely to face a harsher sanction.”

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