Dental claims and the GDC - Improving access to justice?
Did you know that until quite recently the General Dental Council (GDC) made the addresses of all registered dentists freely available online- which made my job as a dental solicitor much easier; I could simply log onto the GDC website, search a name and the registered address of that individual would pop up. This was really helpful in tracing the whereabouts of certain dentists accused of negligence who need to be contacted and put on notice of a potential claim.
From October 2016, the GDC has decided to stop publishing the addresses of dentists on its online public register. The decision was made after a public consultation which found that 74% of respondents wanted all address information removed from the register.
I decided to test how robust the GDC system was and made a request to the GDC for disclosure of a defendant dentists address (which it held but would not give to me) on the basis that the name was quite common.
A trawl of the internet revealed many hundreds of dentists with similar names -meaning that I would potentially have to write to all of those people with the same name. This was a nightmare scenario.
I explained to the GDC the reason that the registrant’s details were needed i.e. in order to put the dentist on notice of a potential claim, and that the request was legitimate from a solicitor with a view to issuing court proceedings, but despite my requests the GDC hid behind the provisions of the Data Protection Act. This was frustrating as this information has been freely available for countless years.
I appealed that recent decision to the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) who agreed with the decision made by the GDC-. Frustratingly, my client was left with no way of putting the defendant dentist on notice of a potential claim. I now how to seek alternative methods of tracing defendant dentists which is both time consuming and costly.
As a Solicitor, my details are freely available online through the Law Society and the Solicitors Regulation Authority- so what’s the difference?
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