The General Dental Council (GDC) said it will appeal a High Court decision due to the “impact these proceedings may have on the professional involved.” The case in question, Williams v General Dental Council [2022] EWHC 1380 (Admin), relates to a decision of the GDC’s Professional Conduct Committee (PCC) to erase a dentist’s from the GDC’s register for charging patients “top-up” fees so that they could obtain better tooth crowns. GDPUK reported that:
The dentist faced various charges, but she admitted to the PCC that she charged three patients ‘top up fees,’ “So that they could obtain better tooth crowns than are provided in the normal course on the NHS,” the High Court hearing said.
On appeal, the High Court overturned the PCC decision, saying that the sanction was “disproportionate and unnecessary”.  Justice Ritchie quashed the decision, saying “Suspension is enough for these proven charges for this young and repentant dentist.” The High Court heard that the dentist “Quite openly and without any deception or coverup, discussed the benefits of ceramic crowns and offered to provide ceramic crowns to the patients on the NHS but with a top-up fee to be paid by the patients for the difference in price between the porcelain bonded crowns and the wholly ceramic crowns. All of the patients agreed.” Ritchie J commented in the transcript that:
“These agreements were written in the clinical notes.  The benefit of this arrangement for the patients was that they were receiving an NHS service and paying the normal small, fixed contribution for that service to obtain their crowns, but also paying a small top up fee to obtain the better crowns. “The alternative, which would have been worse for the patients, would have been for the Appellant (the dentist) to have refused to provide the ceramic crowns on the NHS (because they were just needed for oral health) and to have advised the patients that they could only buy them privately from a private dentist or indeed pay for them privately at the Appellant’s practice. That would have cost the patients considerably more.” The GDC wrote on its website that it has been granted permission to appeal the decision.
It wrote:
We have been granted permission to appeal the judgment of a recent High Court case, which quashed previous Professional Conduct Committee findings of a registrant’s dishonesty in relation to charging private ‘top-up’ fees for NHS dental care in England. We understand the impact these proceedings may have on the professional involved and it’s important to be clear that we are not seeking to appeal the sanction imposed. We are concerned about the way in which the NHS (General Dental Services Contracts) Regulations 2005 were interpreted, which was central to the consideration of dishonesty. We believe clarification is needed, and the only way to achieve this is through the Courts with a judgment setting out the Court of Appeal’s interpretation and its reasons. This appeal will clarify how the regulations should be interpreted for dental professionals, dental practices, NHS bodies in England, and for the purposes of our own regulatory activities. The date of the hearing has not yet been set, but we will provide a further update once we know the outcome of the appeal.
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