25 April 2013
“A dentist has to be insured in case you trip over a loose carpet tile in his surgery and injure yourself, but you can’t touch him for poor care because he does not have to be insured for that.”

So said representatives from access to justice group Bridge the Gap who met with senior civil servants from the Department of Health last week to lobby for a change in the law.
Chris Dean and David Corless-Smith from the campaign had detailed discussions with the Department over proposed legislation to make it a legal requirement for dentists, as well as all other healthcare professionals, to hold professional liability cover.

“It is ludicrous that insurance for actual dental treatment is not mandatory for dentists in this country, so it was good to get this point across again,” said Chris.

They also raised concerns that the draft legislation did not provide any role for the regulators of the healthcare professions in giving guidance as to what features of professional liability cover should be present for dentists, and others, to comply with the law.

Department officials reassured campaigners that the Department of Health had an expectation that regulators would provide guidance and that the issue had come up in meetings with the regulators themselves. 

Chris Dean also asked why there was no mention in proposed legislation of dentists providing details of their professional indemnity insurance to patients.

“We were pleased that officials were responsive to what we think is a key part of the legislation – make insurance mandatory and visible to patients,” said Chris.
He continued: “This was something the Department recognised was required and they said they would look into as a matter of urgency.”