The Dentist Magazine.

Review of RQIA 'a welcome opportunity' for dentistry

Published: 1/7/2019 12:00:00 AM

BDA Northern Ireland has reacted positively to a major review being undertaken of the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA), and the policy and legislation that underpins healthcare regulation by the Department of Health.


Chair of the Northern Ireland Dental Practice Committee, (NIDPC) Richard Graham, and director of the BDA's Northern Ireland office, Tristen Kelso, recently met with officials from the Department of Health's Quality, Regulation, Policy and Legislation Branch, as part of a pre-consultation stakeholder meeting.

A Department of Health discussion paper produced as part of the review acknowledges the existing, 'uniform approach to registration and inspection', developments in regulation policy and existing 'gaps' mean a radical overhaul of the policy and legislation underpinning RQIA is necessary.

Richard Graham, NIDPC chair, commented, "Being classified as 'independent hospitals,' and subject to annual inspections despite being considered 'low risk' (while we see three-yearly inspection periods elsewhere) has perpetuated the feeling among general dental practitioners for some time that the inspection regime is overly onerous, and not fit for purpose.

"We welcome the root-and-branch approach as proposed, not least the acceptance of moving to a 'right-touch' regulatory regime - and the acknowledgement of the issues associated with dental practices being classified as independent hospitals.”

BDA Northern Ireland has been calling for the 2003 Order to be reviewed for some time.

An opportunity to engage with senior Department of Health officials was secured following representations made to the permanent secretary to reduce the frequency of dental inspections.

Following a review of 'Fees and Frequency Regulations' in 2017, a move from annual dental practice inspections to inspections every two-years appears to be in the offing in the short-term, subject to sign-off by the permanent secretary.

An opportunity to look at having this extended even further will be progressed under this latest review, which recognises the range of regulatory tools in improving quality and reducing risk, including professional regulation, quality assurance/reporting processes and use of data.

BDA NI director, Tristen Kelso, added, "While this process is still at an early stage, we welcome the opportunity to engage with the Department of Health in shaping the future of regulatory policy, and the subsequent primary legislation that will follow on behalf of the profession. 

"The stated direction of travel by the Department is extremely encouraging. We intend to input fully into this process to ensure regulatory policy is much more closely aligned with the accepted low-risk nature of dental practices, and where the regulatory burden can be reduced by taking cognisance of regulation in the round.”