Banning dentists’ courtesy ‘Dr’ title “harmful”, says BDA

BANNING dentists from using the courtesy title of ‘doctor’ would cause “significant harm” to the profession, the BDA has warned.

Removing the title would create the potential for the public’s trust to be diminished in a move that “could appear to downgrade the profession.” The union also said the move could cause confusion regarding many overseas dentists whose qualifications are “of equal standing to their UK-trained counterparts but whose degree designations confer on them the right to use the Dr title.”

The BDA’s concerns were raised in a letter to the General Dental Council ahead of the recent meeting of the GDC’s Council. The regulator has been debating the issue for months as part of its consultation Principles of ethical advertising. The GDC’s Standards Committee has proposed that dentists “should not use the courtesy title ‘doctor’ (or the abbreviation ‘Dr’) unless they have a PhD or are a medically qualified and registered doctor.”

Dr Susie Sanderson, Chair of the BDA’s Executive Board, said that while she believes this issue was not important for the public, she added: “A ban has the potential to confuse patients, harm the reputation of the profession and create confusion about the equivalence of dentists who have qualified in different countries.

“We urge the GDC Council to reject the recommendation of its Standards Committee and instead concentrate on the areas of its work that deliver a real benefit to the public.”

BDA research carried out in summer 2010 showed four-fifths of dentists think it is appropriate to use the courtesy Dr title.

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