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Northern Ireland: Minister to reduce frequency of RQIA inspections

28 October 2021

Health Minister Robin Swann intends to bring forward legislation to reduce the frequency of RQIA inspections of dental practices in Northern Ireland.

The Minister recently met with us to discuss the ongoing challenges in dentistry, during which he said he intended to “reduce the frequency of inspections of dental practices based on regulatory experience, available intelligence and learning from the current inspection programme.” 

He went on to note: “I am confident the overwhelming majority of care provided is safe, effective and well led. I can therefore confirm my officials are now working on a plan to deliver this in the current Assembly mandate.”

We welcomed the Minister’s commitment to reduce the frequency of RQIA inspections, while upholding the principles of patient safety. 
Northern Ireland Dental Practice Committee Chair, Richard Graham said: “Northern Ireland’s dental practices operate to the most stringent standards – patient safety is paramount, and dentists are held to the highest regulatory standards by the General Dental Council. BDA NI is pleased that the Minister has recognised the contribution that dental practices make to high quality patient care, under the most difficult circumstances, particularly in recent times. The pandemic has taken a terrible toll on dentists and their staff, yet their commitment and dedication to their profession remains exceptional.

“This will be a welcome development for all dental practitioners, and we look forward to the changes being made in statute.”

The Regulation and Improvement Authority (Fees and Frequency of Inspections) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2005 set out the frequency of inspections to be carried out by the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority. Any changes to the regulatory inspection regime for dental practices will require changes here. We will update you when progress is made.