June 9, 2020
Despite the permitted return to work on 8th June 2020 it is thought that only 25% of dental practices will actually be ready in terms of having the necessary PPE, protective screens and procedures in place to protect staff, associates, therapists and patients alike.
Most practices will either not have completed their pre-opening deep cleaning and disinfection and/or they will not have acquired the PPE, the costs of which continue to rise as I write!
Perhaps of far more importance is the wider impact that Covid-19 will have on dentists who are reticent to return and as a consequence are worried about the economic fall-out on their profession and their business.
The worst-case scenario for NHS and private dentists alike is that they are unable to continue their practice because of the financial pressures upon them, leaving no option than to declare bankruptcy (sole traders or partners) or liquidation (companies).
The questions they will ask themselves is this: –
- “If I go into bankruptcy/liquidation how will that affect my ability to continue practising?”
- Will my GDC registration be affected?
- Can I continue to hold a GDS contract?
- Can I continue to work as an Associate at another practice?
- Will I be able to continue taking on private work?
If a dentist is a sole Principal or in Partnership, they are personally liable for any losses incurred and in addition to debts of the Practice, may stand as Guarantors for loans to the business, which are incapable of repayment.
If trading as a limited company which goes into liquidation, not only would there be financial consequences for the company but if the Dentist(s) are both directors and shareholders, there could also be personal liabilities in the form of Personal Guarantees to the company.
GDC registration is compulsory for all dentists who must pay an Annual Retention Fee in order to practice.
In practice, if a sole trader or partnership enters bankruptcy or a corporate entity goes into liquidation, this would not prevent them from continuing to work as a dentist. However, if the reason for this was professional misconduct, an investigation by the General Dental Council could ensue which at worst, could result in the dentist being erased from the dental register for up to 5 years.
NHS England require to be informed if a bankruptcy or liquidation occurs. As to what action, if any, NHS England will take in the Covid-19 era is yet to be made clear but if one looks at the relaxed attitude being taken to companies who have been found to have “wrongfully traded”, it may be that a light- touch approach is taken.
If you are concerned by any of the above, please don’t let it fester. Acting sooner rather than later is the best option. At Prosperity Law, we have a team of dental and insolvency experts on hand to guide you through these difficult times.
Contact Jonathan Jacobs on jonathan.jacobs@prosperitylaw,com or 0161 667 3686.