There is a widespread and long-standing understanding in the dental sector that private “top-up” fees are not permissible under the NHS (General Dental Services Contracts) Regulations 2005 (The Contract Regulations).
That understanding was recently examined at the High Court during the course of an appeal against the findings of a Fitness to Practise panel. The Judge hearing the appeal found that the proper interpretation of the Contract Regulations did allow for top-up fees in certain circumstances. The GDC appealed that judgment to establish clarity regarding how the Contract Regulations should be interpreted for dental professionals, dental practices, NHS bodies in England, and for the purposes of our own regulatory activities.
Today the Court of Appeal handed down its judgement that it had turned down our appeal.
It will be for the DHSC and NHS bodies in England who have responsibility for the Contract Regulations and associated guidance to consider what action they need to take following the outcome of this appeal and to communicate any implications for NHS dental charges to patients and dental professionals. We have been in contact with those organisations throughout the development of this case.
We are considering our next steps following the outcome of the appeal and will provide further updates as necessary.