Those of you who read the press releases on the GDC’s website may be familiar with the blog written by the current chairman, Bill Moyes, in which he reports on current issues and topics and provides an insight into council meetings. His blog from the 15th April reflects on one of the aims of the GDC’s three-year ‘road map’.
This road map, which focuses on ‘Patients, Professionals, Partners, Performance’ was created with the intention of improving the functioning of the GDC after the 2013 report by the Professional Standards Authority (PSA). The PSA looked into how the GDC handled an investigation into a whistleblowing incident, and since then the GDC has endeavoured “… to become a more transparent organization that engages more and better with you, patients and the stakeholders we work with” (http://www.gdc-uk.org/Newsandpublications/Pressreleases/Pages/BILL-MOYES'-BLOG-Better-use-of-information.aspx).
One of the key issues the meeting looked at is this idea of ‘transparency’ within the GDC. The focus was on the information it makes accessible to the public about its registrants. Whilst we can all agree that the public knowing our names and our GDC numbers is something that puts our patients’ best interests first, the publishing of the addresses of registrants is another matter, and something that may make many of us feel uncomfortable.
Whilst, as professional workers, we will understand the need for patients to know who exactly is in charge of their care, it can be argued that such a measure puts our own wellbeing in jeopardy, as the information could be misused by the public. It can be argued that it offers no benefit to anyone – if a patient feels they need to make a complaint against a GDC registrant, they do not need to know where the registrant lives to do so. The meeting concluded that the GDC must provide a balance between protecting members of the public and protecting the personal data of those on its register.
“Listening to the responses to our recent consultation with patients, professionals, the Department of Health and the PSA, the Council concluded on balance that ceasing to publish registrants’ full addresses would not undermine our duty to protect the public, or the purpose of the register, and removes the potential risk that is posed to dental professionals” (http://www.gdc-uk.org/Newsandpublications/Pressreleases/Pages/BILL-MOYES'-BLOG-Better-use-of-information.aspx).
The blog post concludes that after this change is implemented – and in order for it to be implemented successfully in keeping with the three-year ‘road map’ plan – all DCPs must display their names and GDC numbers somewhere that the public has access too. Moyes suggests that they can be included on your practice website, but some practices may like to have them on the ID badges of staff or on a poster displayed in the waiting room.
This latest move by the GDC, which will have been made after endless discussion and debate, reflects on how they are, as always, focusing on adhering to their set of Standards whilst at the same time protecting those who work so hard to remain members of a professional body.
A Shipman RDN,BA (Hons)