Since 2008, any dentist in Wales who provides private treatment has been obliged to register with Healthcare Inspectorate Wales (HIW).

The relevant regulations allowed HIW to monitor the quality of such treatment by means of practice inspection, inspection of documentation, and interviews of staff members. They also set certain requirements for the response to patient complaints.

The regulations have now been revised and extended as from 1 April 2017, and dentists providing private treatment in Wales must meet a substantial number of further requirements.

In particular, they must:

  • Compile and regularly review a detailed 12-part statement of purpose in relation to their practice, make it publicly available and lodge a copy with HIW
  • Compile and regularly review an 8-part patient information leaflet, make it publicly available and lodge a copy with HIW
  • Prepare, implement and regularly review written policies covering 17 diverse areas, including arrangements for clinical audit, risk management and infection control
  • Allow inspection of those policies by patients, prospective patients and HIW
  • Satisfy an extend list of requirements for them and members of staff to be considered fit to carry on a private dental practice, and as to the quality of service provided, including staff health checks and training
  • Take all reasonable steps to ensure that good personal and professional relations exist between them and members of staff, and between members of staff and patients, and regularly seek their views on the quality of service provided
  • Retain sufficient staff, and ensure that each staff member is appropriately trained, holds any necessary registration, has access to a whistleblowing process and receives regular appraisals
  • Comply with detailed requirements in relation to fitness of surgery premises and complaints handling, supplying any documents relating to the handling of a complaint to HIW if requested
  • Notify HIW of any allegation of misconduct against them or a member of practice staff resulting in actual or potential harm to a patient, and of the death of or serious injury to any patient

The above is only a summary of regulations which are now detailed and extensive, and which provide that any contravention or failure to comply with them is a criminal offence.

Registration carries an annual fee of £500: in view of this and the significant additional burden placed on them by the new regulations, practitioners will no doubt be relieved to know that Regulation 24 requires them to carry out private practice ‘in such a manner as to ensure that it will be financially viable’.