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LONDON, UK: As the independent regulator of health and social care in England, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) has recognised the benefits that new technologies can deliver for healthcare patients. As a result of the rise in direct-to-consumer orthodontics, the regulator has released updated guidance on what the registration requirements for this method of dental care are.
In its recent statement on direct-to-consumer orthodontics, CQC stated that it considered “orthodontic treatments provided to patients following an intra-oral scan or when a patient has taken impressions themselves to be regulated activity”. According to the regulator, these treatments need to be regulated in the same manner that clear aligner treatment planning and diagnosis is—meaning that any provider of these services must register with CQC first.
“To register with us, providers must assure us that they are able to provide safe and effective care in line with relevant legislation and guidance,” the statement read.
It continued: “Providers cannot legally carry out regulated activities without registering with us. It is an offence under Section 10 of the Health and Social Care Act to provide regulated activities without being registered with CQC. We can use our regulatory powers to prosecute such offences.”
CQC emphasised that it would continue to work with dental professionals and relevant professional bodies such as the General Dental Council (GDC) to ensure that remote orthodontics providers have the registration and skills necessary to deliver treatment services safely. The GDC itself recently released a statement on direct-to-consumer orthodontics in which it stressed that all dental professionals in all treatment settings must be registered with the GDC and abide by its standards of care.
“With remote orthodontics we need real regulation, not just empty warnings to properly protect patients,” Dr Eddie Crouch, chair of the British Dental Association’s Principal Executive Committee, remarked in a press release.
“Mandatory CQC registration and inspection is a much-needed first step. A health watchdog needs teeth, and a willingness to prosecute those who fail to register is sending the right signal to unscrupulous operators,” he added.