A recurring query we’re encountering at the moment is whether insolvency will affect a dentist’s professional registration, or their ability to hold an NHS contract.
The vast majority of dentists are self-employed and work in unlimited liability partnerships. Although this way of operating allows them to take on NHS contracts, it also leaves them personally liable for any financial losses that they or their partnership incur. Therefore, the professional effects of insolvency are a pertinent concern.
Insolvency and professional registration
All dentists must be registered with the General Dental Council (GDC) and may, if they wish, also become a member of the British Dental Association (BDA), which is the trade association for dentistry.
Usually, the making of a bankruptcy order against a practitioner, or the winding up of his or her partnership, will not affect their registration with the GDC or BDA. The only grounds for suspending a dentist in such circumstances would be if insolvency proceedings revealed evidence of some related professional misconduct.
Insolvency and holding an NHS contract
The majority of dentists conduct a mix of both NHS and private dental work. There is no regulatory reason why a dentist subject to formal insolvency proceedings should not be able to carry on private dentistry for as long as they remain registered with the GDC.
So far as the NHS funded work is concerned, all standard NHS contracts require their contractors to notify the NHS immediately upon any formal event of insolvency. Whilst the insolvency of a contractor does entitle the NHS to terminate the contract, it is not obliged to do so. It remains to be seen whether the NHS will take a lenient view where financial issues have arisen as a result of the Covid 19 outbreak.
There is also a bar on an undischarged bankrupt, or somebody who is operating under a bankruptcy restrictions order, from entering into a fresh NHS contract. Dentists who are concerned by this should take advice as soon as practicable to understand the potential regulatory impact upon their practice.