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  • David Bradley

S. Cumbria & Lancashire Dental Advisor Newsletter - DPASS

Dental Practitioner Advisory and Support Scheme (What does it mean to me?)

Many years ago, dental practitioners had very little support from health bodies and the Local Dental Committee was the nearest port of call when a dentist found themselves in trouble with the NHS.

The LDC members were there to talk to the GDP and try and keep the situation proportionate and in context, should the GDP seek and accept help.

The LDC provided what was referred to as the “Wise Men” that the health body could ask to engage with a dental practitioner who was possibly going to find themselves in trouble, before the situation became too serious.

In those days when the health body received a complaint the chance was that it was going to result in a service committee hearing, which was the NHS’s disciplinary committee. This committee could find that the dentist was in breach of their terms of service and that might result in a withholding of dental fees up to £1000-00. That may not sound a lot today but 30 years ago that was a lot of money to lose. They could refer you to the GDC and if they imposed a withholding of a £1000-00 the GDC had to be informed.

The Wise Men provided advice and support to the dentist and helped them to get through the ordeal.

As a young practitioner I found myself in a situation that could have resulted in a service case as the result of an unfounded complaint from a patient about treatment I had provided and his expectation of what the NHS should provide. I contacted the LDC at the time and a very understanding member helped me through this difficult time with reassurance and empathy.

As time went on the idea of providing support matured and the DPASS was evolved into a more formal process where a dentist could be referred, to help avoid more serious consequences. A dentist could also contact the DPASS, themselves, if they felt they were having a problem and needed help as to what to do.

It relied upon LDC members trained in this type of support work and importantly was owned by the LDC.

The underlying philosophy of the DPASS has always been to help and not judge.

The current process provides a formal Educational Prescription for a dentist that has been referred to DPASS by the Performance Advisory Group as the result of a complaint or an issue of underperformance, which is there to help remediate the dentist.

What I feel many dentist’s don’t realise is that the DPASS is there to help before it gets that far and if an individual dentist wants to talk about a potential problem or a concern they have about their clinical practice or situation, in confidence, before it escalates then the DPASS is there.

I am not saying they will work miracles and make everything go away, but they will listen and advise based on their experience.

The early iteration of DPASS helped me many years ago and I think that GDP’s should not be embarrassed or ashamed to ask for help when they think that there are issues with themselves or their clinical practice that could lead to more serious consequences if they are not addressed as early as possible.


David Bradley BDS

Dental Adviser and LDC member

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