New technology enables services to deliver care in new ways. But people still have the right to receive high-quality, safe care – regardless of how it is delivered.
We know that some providers are doing things differently and offer some aspects of care remotely, which they would have delivered in person. The dental profession has been interested for some time in the development of direct-to-consumer orthodontic services. This is sometimes called online or remote orthodontics. We want to clarify the registration requirements for this type of care.
We consider orthodontic treatments provided to patients following an intra oral scan or when a patient has taken impressions themselves to be regulated activity. This is in the same way that treatment planning and diagnosis associated with aligners is also regulated activity. Regulated activities are listed in Schedule 1 of the Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2014. In this case, they come under the regulated activities of Treatment of disease, disorder or injury and Diagnostic and screening procedures. Where a service is carrying on what the law describes as a regulated activity, that provider has to register with CQC. This enables us to work together to understand how the service operates and to protect people who use the service through our regulation. 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.
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.
Once a service is registered, we monitor and assess the quality of care to make sure it is being delivered safely and effectively in line with relevant regulations. We expect all providers to consider and apply standards and guidance from relevant bodies where appropriate. We’ll keep up to date with new and updated guidance, and will consider this when we assess the quality of a service. We’ll consider whether people who provide care are properly registered with relevant professional bodies, such as the General Dental Council (GDC), and whether they have the necessary skills to deliver services.
We will work with our colleagues in the GDC, dental professionals, service providers and people who use services to understand the developments in how services are delivering care. Together, we will work to make sure people get the safe, high-quality care they are entitled to.