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Racism: Proper safeguards are needed to protect GDC registrants

We have called on the General Dental Council (GDC) to ensure it offers meaningful protection to all registrants, following the suspension of a Practice Committee Member for making racially motivated comments.

Rashpal Singh Mondair, a former chair of the Committee, now faces an immediate six-month suspension, to be followed by a review. On 1 August 2018, while acting as a Practice Committee Member, he made comments along the lines of "this is going to sound racist but…" stating he would not want to be treated by a dentist from Africa. Witnesses suggest similar views were expressed concerning dentists from both Eastern Europe and Asia.

The GDC has already recognised that these comments had the potential to jeopardise the impartiality of the regulatory process, and risked the integrity and fairness of decision-making. The regulator has made a commitment to analyse over-representation in Fitness to Practise cases. We are seeking urgent clarity that this unprofessional behaviour has not impacted the treatment of any registrants to date and that safeguards are in place to ensure fair and equitable treatment for all.

Shareena Ilyas, Chair of our Education, Ethics and the Dental Team Working Group said: "The General Dental Council has taken the right course of action. However, this raises serious questions about decisions taken over the course of years. An individual harbouring poisonous views was free to hold a privileged position at a health watchdog. Ethnic minority dentists are already more likely to expect referrals from patients. We need cast-iron assurances that safeguards are now in place to ensure fair treatment for all when complaints reach the GDC."

No one should be negatively affected by uncontrollable factors such as ethnicity, gender, age, sexual orientation, class or disability. That's why, we're encouraging members to sign up for our new Equality, Diversity and Inclusion training course. The perspectives and insight provided by this course may support you and your practice to be more consciously inclusive, considerate and respectful of diversity.