A collection of all of our favourite blog entries from our publications: Smile, BDNJ and The Probe.

GDC’s ethical advertising consultation: The use of the title “Dr”...

GDC’s ethical advertising consultation: The use of the title “Dr”...

 Restorative and dental implant surgeon, Dr Koray Feran discusses the GDC’s ethical advertising consultation, regarding the use of the title “Dr”...  

On October 15 2010, the GDC closed its consultation on proposed changes to ethical advertising within the dental profession.

Hidden in this series of otherwise understandable proposals, occupying just three lines, was the bombshell that the GDC is contemplating (or indeed may already have decided to) remove use of the courtesy title, “Dr” for the entire profession unless they are in possession of a PhD or a medical degree.

Despite asking for feedback on this issue, on the very last page of the online feedback form, the GDC makes it clear that feedback will actually not necessarily make a change to its decision.

But, why is this change being proposed? Why is it being effectively hidden amongst the series of other proposals when the subject on its own has been such an emotive and far ranging point of discussion in the past?

Whilst this information was available for anybody who wishes to go onto the GDC website, there has been an undeniable lack of direct publicity within the profession on the subject. Just a few days prior to the closing date of the consultation, more than two thirds of the colleagues that I spoke to were completely unaware of its existence, despite the consultation having been instigated in July 2010.
A reason given for the suggested change on the website is that the “GDC’s fitness to practice team dealt with over a hundred cases concerning advertising” last year. Another reason was that the title was misleading to the public.

Of course, our colleagues should not be out to mislead the public or in anyway promote themselves to be anything more, or indeed less, than they are. The use of titles and content of advertising is a subject matter for more debate. However, the concept that the courtesy title,“Dr” somehow implies that our patients mistake us for general medical practitioners is surely unfounded. Even if they do, how long into the first appointment would it take them, and indeed the dental practitioner, to realise the error and be set straight?

Making over 36,000 people change something so important simply because of 100 or so “cases” (whether these complaints were justifiably upheld or not is not mentioned) that had to be “dealt with” just seems heavy-handed and unnecessary.
Whether we should be called “Dr” or “Mr” is actually not the issue here. I was quite content with “Mr” until I started travelling and lecturing abroad in a professional capacity whereupon “Dr” was universally used and has been for over a decade. I’m all for an open debate and to follow whatever the profession votes for.

The main issue is the fact that the GDC is spending money; an estimated £40,000-£50,000 on this (not in its budget, but simply for administrative work), and may make a decision, regardless of the professions’ wishes, to force every single practice in the country to renew its signage, letterheads, advertising and essentially everything that has the dental surgeon’s name on it. All of this at the professions own temporal and financial expense.

This forced change could easily be a five figure sum. During a recession year when a lot of practices have already taken a significant hit in profits, and with CQC, HTM 01-05 and all the other increasingly expensive and unproven regulatory boulders being deposited on our backs, in addition to a 31.5 per cent ARF increase, is this really what the GDC should be spending our money on? I really think not.