Outcome of case review following ruling on interpretation of NHS regulations

25 April, 2024

Following the ruling of the Court of Appeal in the case of General Dental Council v Williams [2023] EWCA Civ 481, that ‘top-up’ fees can be permissible under the NHS (General Dental Services Contracts) Regulations 2005 (The Contract Regulations), we undertook to consider whether the judgment had implications for the outcomes of previous fitness to practise cases.

The Court of Appeal upheld an earlier High Court decision that the proper interpretation of the Contract Regulations allowed for top-up fees in certain circumstances. We appealed that judgment to establish clarity about 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.  

We have carried out a review of 124 cases involving ‘top-up fees’ since the Contract Regulations came into force. Having reviewed all the circumstances of the relevant cases and engaged the services of independent legal counsel, no further action was required, as it was established that the outcomes in these cases did not depend on the interpretation of the Contract Regulations which was at issue in the Williams case.  

It is for the Department of Health and Social Care and NHS bodies in England, who have responsibility for the Contract Regulations and associated guidance, to consider necessary actions and communicate any implications for NHS dental charges to patients and dental professionals.