BDA puts a halt to revised RQIA inspections

NI authority criticised for launch of pilots during consultations

The British Dental Association (BDA) in Northern Ireland has successfully derailed plans to revise the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA) inspection process, saying it was not “based on robust evidence and data”.

The association argued that the proposed new system would have created an unnecessary duplication of regulation for dentists. The RQIA launched a consultation in March this year on a revised inspection policy for services, including those who are providing private dental care.

However, even before the consultation began, the RQIA started piloting a new inspection methodology and reporting format. The BDA contacted the RQIA to tell them that “it was premature to pilot any proposals in advance of the consultation’s outcome”.

In its consultation response, the association also remarked that the RQIA “lacked sufficient reasoning and basis for justifying any changes” and that the proposed use of healthcare ratings were neither relevant nor appropriate for dental care.

The BDA also said there was likely to be little value to patients in a ratings system for dental care, as patients tend to be focused on the quality of clinical care, rather than the administrative functions and systems that RQIA regulates.

Following the BDA’s response, the RQIA have now halted the pilot inspections.

Chair of the BDA’s NI Dental Practice Committee, Peter Crooks (pictured), said: “In Northern Ireland, dentists are already required to meet higher regulatory standards than in other parts of the UK and are also inspected more frequently.

“The revised inspection scheme being proposed by the RQIA makes absolutely no sense to dental providers or their patients, it is ill-conceivedThrough current regulatory systems, our patients already have the assurance that their care will be safe, effective and compassionate.

“We hope the RQIA can learn from this, in ensuring transparency and openness, as it carries out consultations and informs its responses, the follow up, and any changes arising.”