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Dentists: If you aren’t yet ready for GDPR then you are not alone

Blog Author James Goldman

Blog Date 02/05/2018



 - Update 10 May: The Government has rejected our proposed amendment to exempt dentistry from the DPO requirements. NHS practices should have a DPO in place by the 24 May. -




With the deadline for dentistry to be compliant with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) looming fast (25 May), we asked on our social media if you were ready, and 62% of you said 'no' – so, you are not alone if you don't feel like you have it under control yet.


It's important not to panic – GDPR may feel like it's going to be a headache, but we have produced guidance specifically on what dentists need to do to ensure they are complying with the GDPR, and we have also been lobbying the Government to ask for NHS dentists to be exempt from the need to have a dedicated Data Protection Officer in place.

Our tailored advice for dentists explains how you can comply with the GDPR - and our Expert Members templates and data audit can help you to implement the changes.

Don't be frightened into paying for expensive services you might not need. Alongside other high street healthcare providers, we have been urging government and opposition MPs to exempt dentistry from the potentially expensive and in our opinion unnecessary requirement of having a dedicated Data Protection Officer (DPO) for your practice.

Most dentists are not processing healthcare data "on a large scale" which means that under the GDPR they would not need a DPO, but they might end up being required to appoint one because they are defined as 'public bodies' under UK legislation.

For our members, we know that this may incur not insignificant extra cost and we have been working hard to stop this.

As a result of our lobbying, cross-party MPs have now tabled an amendment to the Data Protection Bill which would exempt dentists from this needless and onerous new requirement. The amendment will be debated at the Bill's Report Stage, which should take place soon and we will inform you of the outcome as soon as we hear anything.

For now, we advise you to get all your ducks in a row, decide on who within the practice might be your DPO and ensure that a plan is in place to give them the necessary training to comply. If we win on the amendment, then hopefully this will save you the expense of having to contract it out, if you can't nominate someone within your practice.

Our advice explains how the GDPR affects dentists' data protection responsibilities, we have a CPD module all dentists can take, and our Expert members templates and data audit will help practice managers and owners ensure they are complying.

Foundation dentists or associates are also likely to be classed as a 'data processor' under these new regulations, and your practice should explain what your responsibilities are, and what you need to do under them to ensure you are complying. 

Your practice may also ask to make a change to your contract, to include wording to show they are ensuring their associates are complying. If this happens and you'd like advice on any contract wording changes, do use the BDA's free contract checking services – our experts can offer tailored advice on this topic.

We know that many dentists find the hoops that regulation and compliance make you jump through frustrating and onerous.

It's one of the reasons why the BDA exists - we are here to help do some of the legwork for you, but we can only do this with your continuing mandate. I'd like to thank our dedicated and loyal membership for continuing to support and work with us, to help ensure that implementing the GDPR doesn't become a nightmare for dentists, and that we can make sure it is proportionate for dentistry, within the confines of the law.

James Goldman, Associate Director

BDA Advisory Services


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