Is Dental Nurse Indemnity the next PPI? P5

It’s a shame, I think, because Dental Protection and MDD US, they probably got billions invested in assets to underwrite what they do.  So, I think they should start paying out some sort of terminal bonus.  I think if you’ve been a customer of theirs and you retire, I think you should get a little bit of a share of the company back.  At the moment, they just go, “Thanks very much.  That’s the members’ money.  We’re putting it in, and we’re keeping it for the members.”

When you cease to become a member, I don’t see why you shouldn’t get a bit back, some sort of share.  They could do that and still maintain sufficient reserves, but at the moment, they’re saying, ”We have ways.  That’s going in the reserve.  We’ve had to put that into building the reserves.” I mean, how many billion pounds do you need?  They just save this money up for the sake of saving it.  It’s a bit addictive, I suppose, if you’re getting hundreds of millions of pounds in all the time.  When is enough, enough?  When do they say stop?

Chris Ritchie:      Well, they have to employ someone to count all the money, don’t they?  They’d have to sack people, presumably.  People would be made redundant.

Derek Watson:   Well, they can probably take on the people from the BDA then to help them count the money.

Chris Ritchie:      That is a very good idea.  What I’m more concerned about is the Scott advice, and he mentioned to me, some years ago, that he found out dental nurses, as you just told me, do not necessarily need indemnity insurance, but is the GDC still telling them that they do?

Derek Watson:   I think the GDC is pretty careful to steer clear of the argument.  Let me put it this way.  Dental nurses, I am pretty sure, and I’m looking for the reference here.  I think it’s fairly early on in the review that says that dental nurses are covered by NHS indemnity or their employer.

Now, a self-employed nurse would need indemnity, but there are very, very few of those.  The sort of people that need indemnity are hygienists, therapists, dental technicians, and stuff like that.

Now, if you’re a dental nurse and you’re worried, and you’ve been told, “Now, you’re already with the General Dental Council.  You may get reported to the General Dental Council.  You may have to appear before the General Dental Council,” then I can see why you might think you need some sort of insurance possibly to cover that and to pay for representation because you couldn’t pay for a barrister if you’re a dental nurse if you got a complaint.

For a while, people like Dental Protection said, “No, it’s not a problem.  If you’re a dental nurse working in the practice of a dentist who’s a member of the house, we’ll include in our scope of advice and care because basically it’s going to be the same complaint.  I mean, the complaint will probably reach to the dentist.  Then, they’ll name the nurse, but basically, we’ll be doing the paperwork anyway.  So, we might as well put your name down on the list of people that we are representing.”

This one organization in particular, the British Association of Dental Nurses, did come up with this scheme whereby they sold nurse’s indemnity insurance, and I’ve had many an argument with Pam Swain, their chief executive, about this, and underwriter, Sharon, who underwrote both Shield and Farras and I know underwrites the BDNA end scheme.

It’s money for them because they know damn well that the nurses aren’t going to get complained about, and they’re paying a premium, which £10 or £15 pounds a year, but even if it’s £2 a year, it’s £2 a year for not much.  The problem with this in the society in which we live is that this is seen as good business by some people, and there are an awful lot of nurses.  So, the numbers multiply.  There are profits to be made.  If 30,000 people pay £10, then you booked £300,000 haven’t you?  You don’t have to do much.  That’s good business.

I would say bad business.  Whenever our nurses have asked us if they need indemnity insurance, we’ve always told them no, but at the back of their mind, “Perhaps I’ll get it just to be on the safe side.  Perhaps I’ll get it just to be sure.”  Are you sure?  It’s always more difficult to say to someone, “No, you don’t need something,” than to say, “Yes, you do,” because you can’t prove it.  You can’t prove to them that they don’t need it.  All you can say is that you’ve looked at the Scott review, which most of them will never have heard of, let alone see, and say, “We’ve looked at it.  It’s our opinion. You don’t need it.”  I’m pleased to say, we’ve never regretted giving that advice.

Chris Ritchie:      Does the GDC have any knowledge of the Scott review?  According to the GDC website, “Once registered as a dental care professional, you must have professional indemnity to practice in the UK,” and they’ve helpfully blued out professional indemnity there.  So, you can follow the link.  If you click at that, “We’re sorry, we couldn’t find that page.”  I think it needs to spend a little bit of that new money it’s got on sorting its website out, perhaps.

Derek Watson:   Their website terrible.

Chris Ritchie:      Also, this advice is not right, is it?  It says you must have professional indemnity to practice in the UK, and as it turns out, that’s not exactly true.

Derek Watson:   Well, I’m on their indemnity page, and it says, “We expect you to have the appropriate arrangements in place in order for patients to seek any compensation, which they may be entitled to.”  Now, if you’re vicariously indemnified by your employer, then I would say that’s the end of it.

Chris Ritchie:      What about technicians?  Why should dental technicians need indemnity?  Would they?

Derek Watson:   Well, as I say, it’s really designed to protect you against financial claims, which arise out of claims for damage for loss as a result of negligence.  Now, how many times have technicians had claims of that nature?  It’s always the dentist isn’t it?  It’s always the dentist that gets sued.

Chris Ritchie:      It’s a big business, I think, built up around, and I think there’s a little bit of unscrupulous activity going on.  I think that it needs to be clearer.  I think who needs indemnity and who doesn’t should be made absolutely clear.

Derek Watson:   I wish I could find this thing in the Scott review.  Wait a second.  I got it.  Conclusions and recommendations number four.  It says, “My conclusions have taken into account that employees in the NHS and independent sector will be able to satisfy the condition of registration by dint of the corporate cover that arises from an employer’s vicarious liability for the acts or omissions of employees.”  Basically, that’s the employer’s support.  It’s like whatever goes wrong is my fault around here.  Whatever goes wrong with the nurse, it’s the nurse’s employer’s fault.

It says, “Personal cover, from a defense organization, trade union or other body, will not be required on relation to practice as an employee.” So, as an employee—

Chris Ritchie:      Completely covered.

Derek Watson:   “Personal cover will only be required in relation to self-employed practice.  In my judgment, this is the correct approach.”

Chris Ritchie:      So, this could be like the misspelling of PPI.  You know you get stung.

Derek Watson:   Oh, I haven’t thought about that.

Chris Ritchie:      You could get some recorded voice at the end of your phone, you know, saying, “Press 5 now and—

Derek Watson:   We were missold indemnity insurance by the PADN.  Holy cow.  Holy cow.

Chris Ritchie:      Yeah, that’s what it is.  This is what it boils down to.  This could be a PPI scandal in dentistry.

Derek Watson:   You know, it hadn’t occurred to me about that, and I’d been banging about this for years.

Chris Ritchie:      Well, you just need to talk to someone clever occasionally, that’s all.

Derek Watson:   You know, I think they’ll say that even if you are covered by vicarious liability, you might still need someone to represent your interest and help you handle the correspondence and everything, and that what we would do.

Oh well.  That seems like a fairly good note to end on.

Chris Ritchie:      We’ll be talking to Pam Swain next time, of course.

Derek Watson:   Pam Swain will be a guest on the next netcast, no doubt, explaining what she spent all the money on.

Chris Ritchie:      Buying Richard Leishman a new car, perhaps.

Derek Watson:   Right, we need to wind it up now because I think I’ll just have enough time to cover the list together.  As I said, the video’s working again this week.  That’s great.  We might have this up on YouTube as well, as a netcast, a podcast.

We’re going to the BDTA.  Now, I’ve got a problem because Farida is stuck in Iran.  My staff is stuck in foreign acclaims and therefore, cannot man personnel, workforce, whatever the word is, stand.

So, I don’t know what I’m going to do.  Ask me on the next podcast how it goes because 2 three-day exhibitions, and there’s nobody to help me.

Chris Ritchie:      Aw, diddums.

Derek Watson:   So, by the time people listen to this, the exhibition’s going to be over anyway.  So, they don’t care.

Chris Ritchie:      Does anyone care?

Derek Watson:   But if you do, if you’re listening to this in the two or three days before the BDTA.  It’s the 17th and 19th of October.  We’re on stand R and J [55:06].  Now, the next netcase is going to be on Monday, the fourth of November.  That’s they day for a bonfire date, and as usual, just either e-mail us at or go to the website

If you’re a member, you’ll be able to get in.  If you’re not a member, there’s still some stuff there for you, including the address to the podcasts and stuff like that.  Please do consider joining because we have, for many years, relied on the support of the profession to keep going.  Unlike the British Dental Association, we don’t have much of the way or reserves, and we do need your help and support more than ever.  So, go and have a look.  See what we offer.  If you think it’s worth what we’re charging for it, then sign up, and try us out.

So, I think that’s it.  Anything else?

Chris Ritchie:      No.  I was just going to suggest, as it’s the day before Bonfire Night, we could have a mass burning of all the indemnity certificates.

Derek Watson:   Yes, there’s going to be a mass burning of Leishman unless we find out that he’s got a bloody excuse for not being on this week, but as you said, I think he did mention that he wasn’t going to be around one week.

Chris Ritchie:      This is that one week.

Derek Watson:   Possibly, he’s taken his blood £81,000 Mercedes abroad, and he’s gone on a driving holiday hasn’t he?

Chris Ritchie:      Probably.  That man seems to take holiday every week.  I just don’t know what’s going on.  Shocking.  We have to work for a living.  He’s some sort of playboy, gallivanting around Europe.  I don’t know.

Derek Watson:   First of all, can I just say, if you’re going to be a presenter on this podcast and you don’t turn up, expect the piss to be taken off you mercilessly.  That is one of the conditions.  If I ever miss one of these, and Chris has certainly missed these in the past, that is just a condition of joining in.

Chris Ritchie:      Yeah, that’s fair.

Derek Watson:   Secondly, read rule one.

Chris Ritchie:      Thirdly, I’m hungry.  Thanks very much.

Derek Watson:   Alright Chris.  Talk to you next time.

Chris Ritchie:      Buh bye.

Derek Watson:   Bye.






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