There has been concern over the GDC making registrant’s addresses public for some time with many arguing that it is unnecessary, a breach of the Data Protection Act 1998 and a breach of their right to a private life under Article 8 of the Human Rights Act 1998. It has also often been argued that the GDC, in publishing registrant’s addresses does not fall in line with other regulatory bodies such as the General Medical Council (“GMC”). The GMC is often regarded as the ‘lead regulator’ and it does not publish the addresses of doctors in the UK. Instead, they are identifiable by registration number. It seems the GDC are listening to the concerns raised and, on 13 April 2016, decided that it will no longer publish dentists and dental professional’s addresses for the public to see.
This decision comes after discussions with patients, dentists and other dental professionals, the Department of Health and the Professional Standards Authority, the body which oversees the work carried out by each regulator.
However, will this go far enough? Having decided to remove the full addresses of registrants from its published register, the GDC is shortly going to consult on whether to include only the name and registration number of the dentist or dental professional or, alternatively, to also include the town in which each registrant lives on the public register.
Chair of the GDC, William Moyes, stated:
“We must balance public protection with protecting personal information.
Publishing an address does not interfere with our duty to protect the public, or the purpose of the register, but could potentially pose a risk to a dental professional.”
The decision to remove registrants’ full addresses from the GDC’s public register has come as welcome news to most registered professionals and the British Dental Association has also voiced its support for this move.
The GDC has stated that when the change is made, it is possible that registrants will only be identifiable by their registration number and Mr Moyes has encouraged all dental professionals to ensure that they display their registration number as ‘good practice’ as he believes that “this will help to identify people carrying out dentistry unlawfully when they’re not on the register, such as in cases of illegal tooth whitening.”
So the removal of registrant’s full addresses from the GDC public register appears to be good news all round. However, it is likely that this change will not be implemented for some time as to do so will require amendments to the rules and regulations that govern the GDC and, in turn, in order for that to happen there will need to be a public consultation on the proposed changes. The GDC has stated that it will, in due course, publish its plans to consult the public, the sector and other stakeholders on the draft amendments to GDC rules and regulations.