CQC Legal Challenge; the next steps
|The CQC have responded to JFH Law’s request for clarification as to the legal basis for their instruction that all practices must stop offering routine or emergency dental care (save where no NHS run UDCC is available).
Their response raises as many questions as it answers.
The CQC have stated that they support “the government agenda of reducing the risks of COVID19 transmission within the general population”; as do we all.
They go on to say that they “encourage dental providers to give proper consideration to the letter from the Chief Dental Officer regardless of whether their practice is NHS, private, or mixed”. A near identical sentence appears in their email of the 17th April 2020, when dental practices were referred to guidance issued on the 3rd April 2020.
The email of the 3rd April advises: All routine dental care should have stopped (the link provided takes the reader back to the CDO’s guidance). Practices should offer telephone triage and advice, giving prescriptions where necessary. Patients requiring active emergency treatment should be referred to Local Urgent Dental Care systems where treatment can safely be provided. Where Local Urgent Dental Care systems are not available, and patient management by advice, analgesia and antibiotics has not been successful, professionals should use their judgement to determine whether to offer treatment face to face. This judgement must have regard to current guidance including; – Guidance from the GDC
– the need to reduce the population risk of virus transmission and
– the use of appropriate PPE
In these circumstances CQC will seek assurances from the provider that they are delivering safe and well led care; especially in accordance with the public health requirements governing appropriate responses to the COVID–19 pandemic.”
Further the CQC’s current guidance (as of 18.05.2020) remains:
We note the use of the word MUST.
There has been no amendment to the regulations. In short the CQC are relying on the existing Regulation 12 (as discussed in my webinar). They have provided no scientific basis upon which they believe that it would be unsafe per se for all practices to operate (save UDCCs).
Critically the CQC are saying:
“The CQC have not adopted the guidance from the CDO as a legally binding position for all dental practitioners in the UK.”
So, why have private dental practices been told that they cannot provide any dental treatment, routine or emergency, if there is a local Urgent Dental Care “available”?
JFH Law has now been instructed by the owners of a small number of private dental practices in England to look at the conduct of the CQC and determine the legal course moving forward.
The goal of this action is to consider:
a) the legality of the CQC’s actions to date, and to ensure that practices can return to work without fear of arbitrarily being closed by the CQC; and
b) what, if any, legal action can be taken to compensate practices for the period of closure enforced by the CQC from the 25th March 2020 onwards.
A ‘CrowdJustice’ funding page will be operational from tomorrow to fund this legal action on behalf of ALL dentists. As soon as this platform is live we will send out a link to it. These practice owners will need your support to take this fight forward.