NHS England release statement on GDC versus Williams

NHS England release statement on GDC versus Williams

NHS England has said it will review existing guidance in light of the GDC versus Williams appeal judgement. 

In a report released today, NHS England has released a statement on the case, which saw the court reverse the GDC’s decision to erase a dentist.

Lucy Jane Williams was erased from the register due to professional misconduct allegations including charging ‘top-up’ private fees in addition to NHS charges.

But the High Court found that NHS regulations do not forbid ‘top-up’ fees

The High Court of Justice has revoked the GDC’s decision to erase a dentist, with the judge concluding that her erasure was wrong and ‘procedurally unfair’.

Detailed consideration

The new statement from NHS England reads: ‘A recent judgement from the Court of Appeal as a result of an appeal brought by the General Dental Council (GDC) was handed down on the 5 May 2023.

‘The key issue examined within this appeal was the mixing of NHS and private treatment (top-up payments for the same procedure) and whether this was permissible on the same tooth.

‘A commonly held understanding in the dental sector is that such mixing and top-up payments on the same tooth are not permissible. The outcome of this case was that the Court of Appeal reached the conclusion, from a detailed consideration of the relevant legislation, that the mixing of NHS and private treatment was permissible in relation to a single tooth.

‘It concluded that Regulation 22 and paragraph 10 of Schedule 3 to the NHS (General Dental Services Contracts) Regulations 2005 and the NHS (Dental Charges) Regulations 2005, read together, do not prohibit the mixing of NHS and private treatment on the same tooth under certain circumstances and with the informed agreement of the patient.

‘Whilst this was the conclusion of the court, fundamentally the ruling does not change the principle that patients should be able to receive any clinically necessary treatment needed to secure the oral health of the patient through NHS dental treatment, with decisions about which treatment is appropriate based on clinical assessment and judgment.’

Implications for practices

‘Nor does it alter the obligation on dentists to be clear and transparent with patients about the services available to them on the NHS, so that patients can make an informed choice as to whether they wish to pay privately for dental treatment. We recognise that many dental teams will now be considering this judgment and its implications for their own practice.

‘The Department of Health and Social Care, NHS England and the Chief Dental Officer for England are currently considering the implications of this judgement and intend to review the existing guidance and regulations around charges for dental care in response to this case.

‘We will issue a further statement setting out our intended actions once this review has concluded, which may include but may not be limited to proposed changes to the existing regulations and guidance.’

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