B.C.’s College of Dental Surgeons is a self-regulating professional group. (Picryl.com)

B.C. dental profession needs better self-regulation, expert says

Secretive board concerned about dentists, not their patients

The B.C. College of Dental Surgeons has begun to make changes to better protect patients, but it has more work to do, according to an international expert brought in to review the self-governing professional body.

Health Minister Adrian Dix appointed Harry Cayton, a former head of the U.K. Professional Standards Authority, to review the college performance last year, after its registrar resigned over handling of complaints he made inappropriate comments to two female dentists in 2016.

Dix and Cayton released the report Thursday, finding that the college met only 17 out of 28 standards applied by Cayton, who has worked with medical regulators in Australia, Ireland and several other Canadian provinces.

“They only passed around 60 per cent of the standards of good regulation, and although that is not a disaster it is a serious flaw,” Cayton said.

Cayton’s review found that the college board and staff didn’t trust each other, and there were multiple problems with the organization that oversees 3,000 dentists and 6,000 dental assistants in B.C.

He noted that while the review was underway, the college created a new strategic plan for how it operates, including open board meetings and getting its paperwork in usable order.

“The previous plan doesn’t mention patients,” Cayton said. “It mentions the rights of dentists.”

Dix said he has issued a directive to the college to implement all 20 of Cayton’s recommendations within 30 days.

Recommendations for the board include “mend its relationship with its professional staff,” and “remove itself from the complaints process,” and “sort and organize its documents” so standards are available in one place.

Others include “commit greater time, respect and interest to both certified dental assistants and dental therapists,” and “aim to build a relatinship of both mutual respect and distance with its dentist registrants.”

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Cayton also recommended that the 20 professional medical colleges in B.C. should consider adopting common standards and amalgamating. Currently self-regulating professions include chiropractors, massage therapists, midwives, opticians, optometrists, pharmacists, psychologists, denturists and dental technicians. Dix noted that three nursing professional groups have successfully combined into one, representing more than 57,000 nurses.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

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