As if you didn’t have enough to worry about

Dr John Barry questions the increasing level of regulation in dentistry

Ireland has enough challenges to deal with in its own right without the added complication of the woes befalling Greece and some of the other EU members. We are almost maxed out on doom and gloom and are gradually coming to terms with the new order of belt tightening and dealing with less readily available funds for everyone.

I am not going to go over this ground as it has been covered ad nauseam. Anyone who knows me well will attest to the fact that I am always the eternal optimist and see the upside when others are at the wrist slitting stage, so it will be quite a shock to see the title above. JB being the purveyor of bad news?

However, from my experience both here and in the UK, including of course just across the border, there is a big challenge around the corner in the form of increased regulation. The regulatory situation across the pond and up north is the main focus of debate among dentists even more than the usual chestnuts about how difficult it is to make ends meet.

Why is this the case? The answer, in my opinion, is that for the first time in my memory, there is a real risk that not getting everything up to speed in terms of compliance with all of the requirements can now actually result in the privilege of being able to run one’s own business being withdrawn by an official with a clipboard. There are a range of organisations to fulfil this role: CQC (Care Quality Commission) in England, RQIA (The Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority) in Northern Ireland, HIQA (Health Information and Quality Authority) in the Republic.

What is the point in having these bodies regulating the dental profession as well as the Dental Councils who are effectively our regulators in the first place? It is a question that is being asked by a lot of colleagues. Are we not capable of ensuring best practice all by ourselves?

Unfortunately it would appear that we are not and whether we argue against this regulation, the reality is that regulation is more and more demanding as each year passes. Therefore we have two choices: embrace the change and have real best practice in our businesses which will help deliver the best possible outcomes for our patients and our staff or kick and scream and whinge about how we are being imposed upon unreasonably.

I personally spent years thinking that all bureaucracy is onerous and unnecessary but I have changed my attitude now that I have been in hundreds of different practices with hundreds of different standards and I have actually worked out that there are very good reasons to set standards that we should comply with as best practice.

But, I have also worked out that we should embrace standards not for standards sake or because we are told we have to but because when we standardise our practices they work so much better and allow us to “Do the right thing right, first time every time!” That my friends, is the definition of quality! Embrace it.