Stop punishing dentists for technical payment errors, says BAPD

Stop punishing dentists for technical payment errors, says BAPD

The British Association of Private Dentistry (BAPD) details why the GDC needs to stop blaming current legislation for its lack of flexibility.

We’re now a month into another new year and hopefully most of us are practising the dentistry we are allowed to by the GDC…

However, the profession are well aware there will be a reasonable number of registrants who, through whatever reason, will still be waiting to get back on the register because they have fallen foul of the 1 January deadline to pay their ARF.

There will be some who left it until the last minute to pay and that is obviously up to them. But there are some who we know have been removed from the register because of a technical payment error.

Not isolated

We have been contacted by at least one person to whom this happened, and despite having proof the GDC payment system was at fault in not taking a credit card payment (proof which includes the GDC’s own computer showing the credit card details had been entered but no payment taken) this person has spent a very stressful time trying to get back on the register. We are fairly sure this is not an isolated case.

True to form, the GDC give the usual excuse that ‘it’s the legislation’ which stops them from offering a grace period for payment. The wording of the legislation relating to the payment of the ARF in the Dentist Act 1984 (section 19 for those who are interested) is almost word for word the same as that in the Medical Act 1983 (section 32), which governs our colleagues in medicine.

For those who aren’t aware, the General Medical Council (GMC) do actually operate a grace period for the payment of the ARF, which appears to be 14 days initially, and then a further 28 days after that.

Why the GDC can’t do the same seems to be a mystery to all of us. But it is certainly not protecting the public by allowing administrative errors to prevent those who otherwise have blemish-free records to care for their patients for weeks at a time.

Outdated processes

These sections in the legislation appear to give the power to change the rules relating to payments to the respective councils (the GMC and the GDC) and as such it would appear to me that blaming said legislation for the lack of a grace period is disingenuous. This is the same GDC that for years maintained that payment by direct debit was also impossible due to the legislation.

Some of the older readers might remember the GDC used to accept payment by cheque, and as long as it was received by them by the 1 January then you were on the register. Some registrants we asked can recall when their cheque hadn’t been cashed by the middle of January, so the GDC can’t even use the excuse of ‘the legislation says the money has to be in their coffers by the 1 January’.

There has been a stark silence recently when senior members of the of the GDC were emailed by a member of our executive board for their explanation as to why section 19 of the act was not being used to refine the rules regarding the ARF to bring it in line with our colleagues the doctors.

The British Association of Private Dentistry fully support Dentistry’s Saving Grace campaign to change the outdated processes that the GDC so desperately cling to.

Read more about Saving Grace articles here:

Get involved! If you would like to write an article for the campaign, please email [email protected].

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